Serious Eats

Spam Hacks: 12+ Things to Do with SPAM

[Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

Love it or hate it, SPAM is a cultural icon. The little loaves of spiced pork shoulder are recognized all over the US (and beyond!) for their saltiness, their fattiness, their ability to withstand all manner of emergency up to and incuding thermonuclear war and zombie apocalypse, and the distinctive schlllloooooop sound they make as they slide out of their cheery blue cans. That noise is more powerful than a mating call for certain Hawaiians I know.

A few weeks ago, we tasted every flavor of Spam on the market. It was... interesting. But the real question is: What do you do with over a dozen cans' worth of leftover Spam?

You get creative, that's what.

Each one of these recipes is just one small step for Spam, one giant leap for Spamkind (as we community of Spam lovers like to call ourselves).

Breakfast of Spampions

Spam might not be the other breakfast meat, or even the other other breakfast meat, and perhaps not even the other other other breakfast meat, but it's definitely high in the running for title of the other other other other breakfast meat. At the very simplest, a few slices of fried Spam go nicely with toast and eggs.

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Did you manage to seduce that Viking last night and are now in need of a breakfast fit for a ruthless marauder? How about some Spam hash? To make Spash, just fry off your Spam cubes (I suggest the Hot variety) in hot oil, add some par-boiled cubed potatoes and cook everything until crisp, adding in some sliced onions and pepper about halfway through. Season it up with salt and pepper and a dash of hot sauce, break an egg into the middle, and toss it in the oven until the egg is just barely cooked through. It'll be a Spashing success.

Equally tasty and slightly more Anglican is the Spammish Rarebit. Just blend a block of Spam in the food processor with a can of cream of chicken soup, a half cup of diced onion, and a few ounces of Velveeta. Spread the resulting goo on a slice of toast and broil until golden brown and bubbly. If you can think of anything trashier and more delicious, you are a Spammier man than I.

Moving on to the second meal of the day, how about some...

Spamburgers

The easiest thing to do is make your favorite cheeseburger recipe, topping the beef patty with a slab of tender, salty Spam. If bacon floats your burgers boat, Spam may well be your Captain.

This works particularly well with sweet creations, like pairing a fine torchon de foie gras with a confit des fruits.

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A Spamburger with Pineapple is the classic Hawaiian version, the grilled pineapple accentuating the spicy bite of the Spam (try it with Cheese-flavored Spam). I like to add some spicy mayonnaise and Swiss cheese to mine, sandwiching it with an English muffin bun (get the complete recipe here).

Pineapple simply too healthy for you? Don't worry—I hear'ya. For those who have decided to take the more calorific route in life, there's the Spam Luther Burger. That's fried Spam topped with American cheese sandwiched in a split glazed donut griddled in butter (Ok, I actually used Spam fat). It's a flavor combination that actually works better with Spam than it does with a ground beef patty, if you can believe it (I know you can!).

Other Spamwiches

There are some who enjoy the flavor of cold Spam. I am not one of them. For me, a Spam sandwich has to be hot and griddled. A plain old grilled cheese with a slice of Spam in it is a delightful treat. Frying the Spam before constructing the sandwich not only improves its texture and flavor, but it also helps give the cheeses a head-start on melting.

Add some griddled onions to the mix, replace the Wonderbread with rye, and you've got yourself one fine Spammy-Melt.

Head down to NOLA, and you may find some of our Spam-endowed brethren place hot spam on a soft crusty loaf, add a few big spoonfuls of olive salad and some sharp provolone to create one of the finest sandwiches known to Spamkind: The Spamaletta.

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As a New Yorker I'd be remiss to forget one of the all-time greats: The Speuben. Just slap your slab o' Spam onto a slice of good rye, add a handful of crisp kraut, slather on the Thousand Island, add a couple slices of Swiss cheese, clos'er, butter'er up, and slid'er right onto that hot griddle. Szzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzpam.

A Spamwich For The Rest of Us

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Gluten not your thing? Or perhaps you just hate bread. Not to worry: the Spam Double Down™ is here to make your spicy, meaty day. Two fat slices of Spam breaded and deep fried until golden brown and crisp (yes, you can use gluten-free breading if you'd like), sandwiched around slices of crisp bacon, pepperjack cheese, and a super-duper secret special sauce (hint: the recipe's here).

Spam: It's What's For Dinner

If you've ever been to Hawaii, you'd be familiar with Spam loco moco (that's fried Spam with gravy on a bed of rice), and of course everybody grew up with a Pineapple Spam Roasts* on the table every Sunday afternoon, right?

*That'd be a can of spam covered with canned pineapple and maraschino cherries, curly parsley optional).

But Spam-for-dinner doesn't have to be refined to island cuisine. Don't believe me? Take a few of these guys for a spin:

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The classic just got classier. The only thing that can beat blue box mac & cheese on the nostalgiometer (a scientific device that can measure nostalgia levels in four different dimensions) is blue box mac & cheese with an extra slice of American or a big slab of Velveeta melted into it. And the only thing that can beat that?

How about blue box mac & cheese with extra cheese studded with crisp Spubes? That would be cubes of fried Spam, and for your own sake, I heartily advise against looking that word up in Urban Dictionary if you'd like to keep your dinner down.

Got a hot date with the new girl/boy and want to woo them with Spam? What better way to say I want you than by adding a handful of perfectly chopped chives to your Spamac & cheese? What's that? They don't like Spam? In that case, perhaps you should be questioning whether or not they are good enough for you. Then eat all the Spam for yourself.

Alternatively, you could go all Continental on them with Spamghetti Carbonara. Ditch that pedestrian guanciale, signora, we got Spam here! Fry up some tiny cubes of Spam (black pepper flavored, of course) in your finest olive oil, season well with pepper, then throw it all into a bowl. Add a couple of whisked eggs, then throw your just-cooked spaghetti in there and mix it all around to form a rich, peppery, eggy, Spamalicious sauce. Buon appetito!

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It was rumored that Sir Kringlebert Fistybuns, First Earl of Spamfordshire created the Spam Wellington in the early 1990's when his Chef called in dead mere hours before an important dinner party. The foie gras pâté was made, the mushrooms had been duxelled, the pastry was ready to puff, and the sauce bordelaise was burnt.

It's as elegant and inappropriate a centerpiece today as it was on the day it was created.

An International Spamathon

Lest you're wondering, Spam ain't just for us 'muricans. When it's time for your next international party, Spam can get ethnic with the best of 'em.

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My favorite? Start with a few strips of Jalapeño Spam fried until crisp in hot oil (or pork fat!). Slide them into a couple of hot corn tortillas, sprinkle with onions, cilantro, (and maybe a handful of pickled red onions), and you've got beginnings of one wild fiesta loca.

Sparriba, sparriba!

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Of course, you can also take your Spam along to the far east with Spam-chi Fried Rice. Fried Spam cubes, chopped kimchi, kimchi juice, and day old rice fried up with some spicy Korean pepper paste and sesame oil, topped with a fried eggs.

And if heat is what you're looking for, there's not much better than Kung Pao Spam. Just because you're using canned meat, doesn't mean you shouldn't go for the real deal version, made with plenty of Sichuan peppers and fermented chili paste, toasted peanuts, and toasty, fiery dried chilis.

This is, of course, just the tip of the iceberg. The Spam-abilities are endless. What do you like to do with your Spam?

Check out all the variations in the slideshow!

About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.

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