This week I'll post the recipes I created for this year's Minnesota State Fair baking contests. The first: my submission to The Great American SPAM® Championship . Before you run to your local grocery store to stock up on tins of unidentifiable yet oh-so-describable meat product, let me warn you that this recipe is not one I will ever reproduce.
While I was contemplating my SPAM creation, friend K advised, "My feeling about SPAM is that it is all in the char. Which is to say, it comes out of the can, much like a human infant, covered in slime, pink and almost excessively unappealing. Its appeal is based on nurture, not nature." She suggested a preparation that "maintains the char."
Obligatory SPAM Confession: I've never cooked with SPAM before. My mom made it about once a week when I was a kid. On Thursday nights she served potato casserole, thick with cream in which floated pink cubes of pressed pork. I loved it! But since then, not so much. Nothing prepared me for the moment when I opened the can. Just as K described, a pink slab of something slid out like an unexpected and terrifying experience in the Miracle of Birth Center. The smell? Sort of barnyard meets kitty food. K's advice kept me focused.
I'd already decided on a Scandinavian theme for all four of my cooking entries. Adding a little lingonberry to fried meat product seemed the way to go. Not terribly creative, but then I didn't have the luxury of experimentation. My little pies were cute in their way. But a little too sweet and not enough "char."
This year's SPAM winner impressed me. The Blue Ribbon recipe was simple yet (presumably) flavorful, followed K's rule about char, and the kebabs look good enough to eat. So SPAM lovers please heed my warning and skip the recipe below (posted because you asked for it) and instead grill up Stacy Revard's SPAM Cordon Bleu Hawaii Kabobs.
SPAM®dinavian SmåPajMakes about 30 “small pies”
For the crust:1 ½ sups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1 tablespoon slices
6 ounces chilled cream cheese, cut into ½ inch cubes
1 tablespoon dried dill
Zest from ½ orange
¼ teaspoon salt
Add all ingredients to food processor and process until dough forms a ball; 1 to 2 minutes. Shape dough into a smooth ball and place in plastic bag. Refrigerate at least 4 hours and up to 2 days.
For the filling:1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion, diced fine
12-ounce can Classic SPAM®, diced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Swedish-style spicy brown mustard
2 teaspoons garam masala
Juice from 1 orange
½ cup lingonberry preserves
salt and pepper to taste
In large skillet heat olive oil over medium and add onions; sauté until onions are just golden, about 5 minutes. Add SPAM® and continue sautéing an additional 5 minutes, until SPAM® takes on caramelized color. Add vinegar, mustard, sugar, spices, juice, and lingonberries to the pan and cook additional 5 minutes. Flavor to taste with salt and pepper. Cool while shaping dough.
Roll 1 tablespoon sized balls of the chilled dough; flatten into circles with rolling pin. Press dough evenly into non-stick miniature cupcake pans. Fill each cake hollow with 1 to 1 ½ tablespoons SPAM® and lingonberry mixture. Bake in 375 degree oven until crust is golden and tops are crispy, about 20 minutes. Cool 5 minutes and remove from pan. Garnish with sour cream topping (see below) and quick-pickled cucumbers.
For the garnish whisk together:½ cup sour cream
1 tablespoon dried dill
½ teaspoon cumin
Note: the orange (zest and juice) are counted above as one item.