Cooking the Unthinkable: Spam
Cooking the Unthinkable is a series that examines some of the more eccentric ingredients. Whether you are a fan of the bizarre or are preparing for the eminent collapse of Western society this series will help you better stomach weird food.
I have never considered Spam luncheon meat to be anything but an economically priced delicacy. I guess that is one of the bonuses of growing up in the South – we don’t have childish or pretentious attitudes when it comes to food. If it tastes good and can’t get away we’ll eat it.
So imagine my shock when a Yankee friend actually turned their nose up at an offered fried Spam sandwich. Seriously?!?!?
It was then that I realized that to many of those oh so judgmental and considerably less-intellectual-than-they-think Northerners, Spam is considered some kind of gross, redneck food. And Southerners are supposed to be the closed-minded, unintelligent bigots.
Spam, after all, is an American icon – nay an American hero! Spam, unlike chowdah, pizza or cheesecake defeated the Nazi scourge, avenged the attack on Pearl Harbor and beat back the tide of Socialism across Southeast Asia. Spam has a very unique history in the lexicon of American cuisine.
What is the biggest argument that anti-Spametics use to justify their infantile phobia? “Do you know what’s in that stuff?” Yes, as a matter of fact I do. You see, if there was anything at all harmful in it they wouldn’t let them sell it. But if it puts your mind at ease Spam is made up of, “chopped pork shoulder meat, with ham meat added, salt, water, modified potato starch as a binder, and sodium nitrite as a preservative.” Thanks to Lisa Jones for doing the research on that in the October 2006 issue of Men’s Health.
Wow pork shoulder and ham – how gross. And that gelatinous goo? It’s aspic. It is served at every swank party in the Hamptons and exclusive golf club in America. Spam is magical and if you disagree then you are a Nazi-loving, Pearl Harbor-bombing, puppy-kicking Socialist.
I eventually turned the heart of of that poor Yankee when I showed them how well Spam translates to BBQ. BBQ’d Spam is a true delicacy and it is so easy to make. Simply slice the Spam about 1/3″ thick, throw it on the grill until a nice crust forms, flip and repeat. Finally baste each side with your favorite BBQ sauce (a sweet Kansas City style is best) and return to the grill just long enough to caramelize the sauce. It can be eaten alone or wrapped in white bread.
This flavor combination is so good that I created a pizza using it that I call the SPizza. Here’s the recipe from my 2010 cookbook, Third Coast Cuisine:
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- 1 ready made 12” pizza crust (or use your favorite pizza dough)
- 1/2 cup of a sweet BBQ sauce
- 1/4 cup onion, diced
- 2 ounces smoked cheddar cheese, grated
- 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 1 can of Spam, 1/2“dice
- BBQ dry rub (whatever brand or recipe you prefer)
- Olive oil
- Preheat an oven to 400 degrees (or follow directions on package).
- In a skillet sauté the Spam until slightly brown.
- Spread the BBQ sauce across the pizza crust leaving a small border. In order scatter 2 ounces of the sharp cheddar cheese, onions, diced Spam, smoked cheddar, and finely the remaining sharp cheddar.
- Bake 7 to 12 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and crust is toasty.
- Remove to a cutting board and with a basting brush apply the olive oil to the edges of the crust.
- Sprinkle the entire pizza with dry rub especially the oiled edges.
- Slice and serve.
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
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2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
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