Blog of an aspiring foodie

SPAM creations

Posted by beer_chris on 5-November-2006

Two recipes with SPAM today.

The chili recipe is adapted from the CHW Chili recipe. A couple of things of note. I didn't add any salt to the chili at all – I was concerned that it would be too salty as it was, since a 12 oz can of SPAM lists salt as the second ingredient – a 340 gram can contains nearly 5 grams of salt. SPAM is 1.4% salt!

In any case, the chili needed salt – quite a bit of it, actually. However, the SPAM dip I made was VERY salty with no salt added – and in fact if I ever make it again I'll probably look for the low sodium SPAM variety.

CHW SPAM Chili

5 cloves garlic
2 tbsp butter
1 lb ground beef
1 12 oz can SPAM, cubed

1 shallot
4 tbsp ground cumin
3 tbsp dried thyme
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp dried oregano
5 tbsp chili powder
1.5 tbsp Northwoods seasoning

1 tsp salt
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 large (28 oz) can tomatoes plus juice

1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp masa (corn)
1 tsp cayenne pepper

Mince the garlic and shallots. Melt the butter and brown the pair. Add the beef, SPAM, and dry spices. Mix well and cook until combined over medium heat. Reduce heat to low, add tomatoes and tomato paste. Cook for 20 minutes, turn off heat and add masa. Stir and let sit for at least 5 minutes. Season with additional salt and cayenne to taste. Serve over rice with saltines and grated cheese.
——-

Really had to kick the spices up for the SPAM. I just about doubled the spices all the way around, save for the salt (see above comments). I would never have imagined that 4 tbsp of ground cumin wouldn't overwhelm the flavor, but it was needed.

SPAM dip

1 12 oz can SPAM
1 tbsp garlic powder
3 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp dried thyme
2 tsp ground fennel seed
3 tbsp pineapple juice
1 12 oz pkg cream cheese (softened)

Cut the SPAM into small chunks. Pulse in a food processor until it reaches a spreadable consistency. Mix with cream cheese in a good size bowl, and once combined add all other ingredients. Taste and adjust as needed.

For an extra flourish, put the dip back into the cleaned out empty can, mounding out the top of the can. Serve with good quality cocktail crackers.
——-

A few thoughts on this recipe. Did this for two reasons – I thought it would be good, and I wanted to play a bit to see how I a SPAM-based ravioli filling would come together. As it turned out, it was good – but a bit too filling for a dip. This might be OK for a large cocktail party, but it doesn't combine well on a table full of other dip options. It's too heavy to sit next to a veggie plate. The dip itself probably would make a better pate – served on crostini toasts or something as an appetizer or cocktail snack.

Additionally, on seasoning, the pineapple juice was not noticeable in the final product, but I think the sweetness was key. I assumed (correctly) that the SPAM would be nearly overwhelmingly salty, so I wanted to try and balance that with some really earthy dominant spices, and then sew those flavors together with a bit of sweetness (pineapple juice) and my favorite spice 'binders' – fennel seed and thyme. I almost went with some oregano, but thought it would taste too much like pizza with the fennel already in there. Cayenne pepper would have been a nice add I think, and perhaps roasted garlic instead of garlic powder. I left out the roasted garlic because I was not sure how much liquid the dip could absorb. As it turned out I think I could have easily doubled the pineapple juice and still been able to get some garlic in as well.

On cheese, I think I might make this a real heavy American snack and try Cheez-Whiz instead of cream cheese. Additionally, I mixing in parmesan and chevre instead of cream cheese might make for a nicer mixture. A spicy Spanish paprika might be nice as well. The earthy flavors really worked with the SPAM, and as I mentioned it could have used some spice. The mixture could lend itself well to being baked into a cracker (like a shrimp cracker). It would have to be processed further.

Lots of options here – but at the end of the day it's still SPAM. And Brendan was right – it was odd – not good, not bad, just odd.

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