As a teenager I lived in a town not far from Austin, Minnesota, the birthplace of SPAM. I went to school with kids whose family raised pigs that were turned into SPAM. I went to SPAM days (a summer festival) with my friends. My kids loved the SPAM museum when they were little. SPAM is simply a fact of life for me. I like it. I eat it. It’s food with a sense of humor and it makes me laugh.
If you’re not familiar with SPAM then this is the perfect get-to-know-you recipe. SPAM is not mystery meat. It’s pure pig with a surprisingly short ingredient list: Pork With Ham, Salt, Water, Modified Potato Starch, Sugar, Sodium Nitrite. Hot dogs, baloney and most pork sausage have a lot more ingredients that are harder to pronounce. SPAM is good, wholesome stuff. Plus it’s gluten free! Store brand luncheon meats are more affordable if you’re looking to save some cash. They are not necessarily gluten free however. Great Value luncheon meat tastes a lot like name brand SPAM to me. If we weren’t gluten free I would use it instead of SPAM because of the lower price.
- 12 ounce can SPAM
- 1 or 2 tablespoons fat for frying (oil, shortening, bacon grease etc.)
This is the easiest way to prepare SPAM. Open up the can and remove the pink slab of meat. Place it on a plate or cutting board. Decide how many slices you want. If you’re serving 4 people, you want 8 rectangular slices or 4 square slices. If you’re serving 6 then you want 6 rectangular slices. If you’re serving 3 then you want 6 rectangular slices or 3 square slices.
Cutting SPAM is easiest with a thin sharp knife. Cheese slicers also work surprisingly well. I divide the meat into in half visually and then mark the spot by making a small cut with my knife. Then I make a mark in the center of each half, dividing it into quarters. Then I mark the center of each quarter, dividing it into eighths. After making the marks, then I do the actual slicing. You don’t have to be so precise if you don’t want to. Simply slicing it thinly with your knife is good enough.
Cut on the wide side to make sandwich sized slices. You can easily get four 3-ounce patties this way.
To prepare, heat the oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Lay in the SPAM. Fry until lightly browned, flip and brown the remaining side. Serve with a side of plain cooked egg noodles and green beans. This is one of my family’s favorite storage meals. If you’re gluten free then break GF fettucine into small lengths and boil until tender. They make a nice substitute for egg noodles.
Like you, I, too, really enjoy Spam and the less expensive store brands and when I was feeding family of 5 on $30- per month back in the early to mid ’60s, I readily utilized every cost cutting meat I could think of. Once in a while there would be a sale at Safeway and and Spam was available at less price than the store brand, and then, depending on how much I could squeeze out to the grocery budget that week, I’d indulge in the “real thing”.
However, I have to say that Safeway had the best house brands of any I’ve tasted. Today’s Best Choice from Associated Groceries is a very close second. And I grew to enjoy A&P brands when I lived in St. Louis and Minneapolis/St. Paul
One of the family favorites was mac & cheese with little bits of fried, shredded Spam mixed in with the cheese sauce, canned fruit cocktail and home baked sweet bread of some kind. And then there was BBQ Spam on homemade buns with coleslaw and pie made from a mixture of whatever leftover fruit there was in a jar in the refrigerator and that was a favorite. And potatoes au gratin and small dice of Spam with pea salad and homemade pudding.
This is more labor intensive, but the way everyone looked forward to it seemed worth the extra effort. Lay a slab of Spam on its side on a cutting board and make a cut around the inside of the Spam leaving about 3/8″ wall of Spam on the sides and bottom of Spam. Dice or mash center piece very finely and mix with egg, cold, leftover cooked oats, onion & garlic bits, and grated cheese of your choice and a little tomato sauce or catsup. Pack into “hole” in Spam and cover with a combination of tomato sauce and Italian seasoning. Pour over the Spam pile and bake or microwave until heated through. I served this with baked potatoes and carrot raisin salad. I’ve also used mashed Spam in spaghetti sauce and some kind of pasta with a jelled fruit dessert with home made whipped topping, with homemade garlic bread. Some house brands of gelatin have peach flavor and with canned peaches it’s a great dinner. Be sure to drain peaches and save juice to use in preparing the gelatin.
Of course, I didn’t serve the Spam dishes back to back but only when it seemed to me and the rest of the family that we had had had our fill to overflowing with ground beef, chicken, pork, and meatless meals.
Hubby doesn’t care for Spam any more so it never finds its way into the grocery cart these days.
That’s my story and I’m sticking’ to it. ;0))
Isn’t it funny how our tastes change over time? I love our idea for a stuffed Spam. I bet that is real pretty when it’s cooking. I’ve used SPAM in spaghetti sauce too. My family doesn’t love it, but they’ll eat it. Spam is easy to shred on a cheese grater. I have mixed feelings about that. It’s convenient, but meat that is so soft it shreds like cheese kind of give me the creeps. I try not to think about it o_O. Thanks for sharing your experience Frankie. I always look forward to them 🙂