Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Smoked SPAM Experiment

"SPAM? Are you freaking kidding me, Dixon? I'd rather suck quarters out of an old man's ass!" *

Yeah, I hear ya. Well, you're wrong, my friends. Consider this your permission slip to not only purchase a can (or four) of the tasty, beautifully pressed loaf of hog parts unknown, but delight in the consumption of it, MSG and God-know's-what else, be damned. I re-discovered this American delicacy on a pilgrimage to the SPAM Museum in Austin, MN back in 2003. My college roommate Mickey & I were returning to Des Moines from attending a wedding in Wisconsin, and saw the signs as we made our way west down Interstate 90 in southeast Minnesota. We determined instantly that this was a must-see. From then on, I vowed that I would never again frown upon the regular (yet in moderation, of course) consumption of this feigned food.

It was a typical weeknight, with no real plan in place for a quick dinner. A scan of the cupboards can usually yield some sort of "Iron Chef"-like secret ingredient to build a meal around. If you come across a can of SPAM and a box of Macaroni & Cheese, you've got yourself a good start. "Start" is the keyword here, folks. Use your imagination, and the tools & resources you have at hand to take these things, and play around with ideas to make it even better. That's how the Smoked SPAM idea came to be.

Let me just say that if the main star of this show is a can of SPAM, the the supporting actor is the Traeger smoker/grill. The ability to have that thing fired up in less than a half-hour without a lot of hassle is about the only way I can pull this off on a weeknight. This is simply one of many more ringing endosements you'll read about these grills on this fine online publication. With that idea in mind, I set out to smoke my loaf (Mmmm, goddamn, that just sounds lovely, doesn't it?). A quick sprinkle of some leftover dry rub from a recent BBQ rib smoke, and it was off to the hickory smoke for about an hour or so. The finished smoked product is shown here on the cutting board waiting for its next destination: Processed Cheeseville.

While a regular ol' box of Kraft Mac & Cheese would certainly suffice, I'm sometimes a softie (shown by my lack of any sign of an abdominal muscle) for the good stuff. This time, it was Velveeta Shells & Cheese, precisely. With a dicing of the SPAM, and a stir of the shells & cheese, we were close to done. I added some more of the dry rub directly into the mixture, and a sdusting on top when I plated it. If you can't find some culinary goodness in that plate of smoky, cheesy heaven, I can't do anything more for you, my friends.

*Quote from M.H., circa 1994


Dirtbikes and Divas said...

Spam lovers unite, God bless you Dixon for making it okay to profess our love for Spam, God bless you!!

Martin said...

Nice job dusting off that quote after 15 years. I like how the smoked spam looks exactly like the uncooked spam.

I commend you on your originality. I think if Sarah peeked in the smoker and found meat that resembled the container it was packaged in she would probably have a salad.

Mickey said...

Ah, a trip to remember. I think the it was the "SPAM, believe the hype!" billboard that sold it.
It does seem a little strange to smoke a $1 can of mystery meat in a Cadillac smoker though. SPAM should be smoked in something involving cinder blocks, smoldering 2x4's and an old gas barrel.
That said, this is on my to-do list.

Trevor said...

A classic.

Anonymous said...

I will shamelessly take full credit for this admiration for all things Spam, as it was MY wedding in the W.I. that lead to this discovery.

And an additional note to this tale, I was at a wedding rehearsal dinner at quite the fancy restaurant in the same 1 block radius of the Spam Museum, but alas, couldn't convince ANY of my fellow wedding party participants (all hailing from the hell hole of the Twin Cities) to join me in suggesting we move the dinner to a much more "colorful" establishment that served the meat in a can.

So I sat there, with the brightly colored building starring at me through the window as I ate my roast duck and sipped from my glass of Riesling.

Life is cruel, isn't it?

El Dante

Anonymous said...

GAG, that is so gross. SPAM? i am grabbing my trash can! bleck! Karen C.