Spam – do you love it or hate it?

I recently made a culinary confession on social media. Isn’t that the way you’re supposed to share your deepest feelings these days? In this covert research effort, I knew I was going to face a certain scrutiny from friends and family, and prepared for the worst. I was pleasantly surprised.

My confession: I like Spam. Spam as in ham in a can. My husband does not share the taste for canned meats with me, so I haven’t had any Spam in many years, although we always have it in our pantry. You probably have some lurking in your pantry, too.

About every ten years, we’ll grab a package of it at Costco, in case of emergency. It’s inexpensive and just seems like something we’re supposed to keep around. Luckily for him, we’ve never had to pop open any emergency meat.

But the more I think about it, the more I’m thinking lunch is an emergency and I need to break into the multi-pack of canned meat tucked in the darkest recess of our pantry.

Thanks to social media, I found that about 1/5th of the 53 or so friends that commented on my confession are anti-Spam. This research leads me to believe that I am part of a majority of Pro-Spammers. Yay!

I was reading a book (an actual book made of paper) and there was a recipe for homemade Spam in it. When you look at the ingredients, it doesn’t look as unappetizing as many people think meat that comes in a can should be.  If you eat pork, have no worries. Homemade, it’s simply made of pork shoulder, ham, sugar, a little starch, Kosher salt, curing salt and ice water. What’s so bad about that? Nothing, in my opinion.

Spam made its debut during WW2, when it was a staple food for troops. Millions of cans of Spam were sent to troops as a low-cost, filling way to keep them fed. Soldiers quickly tired of having to eat the canned meat every day and got creative with it, especially when having to eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Soldiers soon discovered that they could use the greasy residue from the meat to waterproof boots and tents, as well as a lubricant for the moving parts of their guns. They also often used the tins that Spam came in as utensils for cooking.

Spam was marketed to housewives as “the miracle meat” that didn’t need to be refrigerated. You could enjoy it hot or cold, straight out of the can, or used in many different recipes. What’s not to love, or at least like, about Spam?

My fellow Spammers shared some of their favorite ways to eat the canned meat.

Spam smoked on the barbecue pit.

“Spamboaters” – take most of the bread out of a hotdog bun. Mix chopped Spam, chopped onion, chopped cheese and mayonnaise. Put in oven until cheese melts on top and bun is a little crispy.

Roasted Spam with mustard and pineapple. Deliciousness that caused an allergic reaction of a swollen face, a one-time culinary delight until the histamines went to work.

Sushi made with Spam.

Spam fried rice.

Spam fried with pineapple and brown sugar.

Grated Spam mixed with shredded cheese, mayo and relish, served with crackers.

Sliced, breaded with cornmeal and fried.

Fried in butter, served on a sandwich or with eggs.

Spam cooked with jalapenos, onions, potatoes and eggs.

Spam salad just like you’d make a ham salad.

If that didn’t make you hungry for some Spam, I don’t know what will. One friend even told me that she was at an HEB recently and found Spam Fries and other Spam foods in the freezer section. She didn’t put them in her cart, because she is part of the 1/5th that isn’t on Team Spam. I’d certainly give it a try.

Pan-fried Spam.

Homemade Spam
5 lbs. pork shoulder
1 lb. ham
2 T. + 1 tsp. Morton Tender Quick (fast-cure salt for meat, available online if not locally)
3 T. sugar
3 T. cornstarch or potato starch
1 T. Kosher salt
1 cup ice water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If pork shoulder has a bone, remove it. Dice shoulder into stew-size pieces, keeping any fat attached. Dice ham, keeping fat, into same size chunks as shoulder meat. Spread meat in even layer on a tray and put in freezer for 45 minutes to get firm.

In a medium bowl, make your curing slurry by mixing Tender Quick, sugar, cornstarch and salt and add ice water until dry ingredients are dissolved. Set aside.

Take meat from freezer and run it through a meat grinder or heavy duty food processor, in batches, until complete. In a large bowl, combine meats and curing slurry. Use your hands to mix it all up. Press it into a bread loaf pan and double wrap with foil.

Put the wrapped bread pan into a larger pan, and pour cold water to fill ¾ up the side of the pan, resulting in a water bath. Cook in preheated oven for 3.5 hours.

When internal temperature reaches 155 degrees, take the pan out of the water bath and place a heavy weight on top of the foil until completely cool. Once cooled, place in fridge overnight. Loosen around edges with a knife and slide onto a plate and slice. Store in refrigerator for up to 5 days, or freeze in parchment paper-wrapped slices. For longer shelf-life, it can be canned.

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