BREAKING NEWS: this is the first time that I ever bought or tried SPAM.
What the heck is SPAM?
SPAM is pork-based processed meat that is sold in a rectangular shaped can with a pull tab on top for opening.
I think Hormel’s official website can explain the ingredients of SPAM better than I can. “…SPAM only contains six ingredients! And the brand’s website lists them all. They are pork with ham meat added (that counts as one), salt, water, potato starch, sugar, and sodium nitrite.”
SPAM’s marketing team goes on to list sodium nitrite as an ingredient that is “…a preservative to help retain freshness…”
So basically, we’re working with random parts of pork—from which part of the pig, no one knows—that has been ground, seasoned, and packed back together into the shape of the inside of a rectangular can. This puts it into the same processed pork family as bologna, pork hot dogs, or other processed pork cold cuts.
I’ve yet to shy away from other processed meat products on this blog, so I guess it’s time to give SPAM a shot and see what I’ve been missing all these years.
What is this sandwich?
The idea for this SPAM sandwich was inspired by a Chicago sandwich spot in my neighborhood called Big Kids. Their featured sandwich from a few weeks ago—which I never even tried—sounded interesting to me and inspired me to buy some SPAM and attempt to make a version of the sandwich at home.
You can tell from their menu that Big Kids attempts to push some sandwich envelopes and make sandwiches and burgers that make adults reminisce about their youth. The wacky minds behind their sandwich menu recently announced a Fried SPAM sandwich with American cheese, chili crisp mayonnaise, and Honeycrisp apple on a sesame seed bun.
I never made or even tried this exact sandwich at Big Kids, but I did use it as inspiration for the version that I came up with. My SPAM and cheese sandwich is heavily influenced and similar, but also different.
Apparently, you’re supposed to spell spam in all capital letters like SPAM. Ok, I’ll give it a shot.
If you’ve ever used a skillet or frying pan and you didn’t burn any of your body parts, you can fry SPAM. I know you can do it. You just leave the sliced meat on a hot surface to get some browning on the outside. I usually shoot for 3 to 4 minutes per side in a pan or griddle over medium-high heat.
My best suggestion for frying SPAM would be to cook it hot and hard. Sear it and attempt to achieve color even darker than I achieved in the above photos.
You should fry it in the pan until you feel like you’re right at the edge of burning parts of the SPAM before you remove it from the heat. The super hard heat will lend a lot of texture to the meat which works great in a sandwich. Don’t worry, you shouldn’t taste “burnt” flavors from this hard sear and the meat won’t get overcooked at all.
For these SPAMwiches, I applied my v2 potato buns. They’re super soft and you can add whatever seasonings or toppings you want on top of them. For this application, I added a whole egg wash and then applied sesame seeds to half of the batch.
In a blog post at some point soon, I plan to make a batch of buns and do a complete comparison of what each type of “wash” (whole egg, egg white, milk, soy/alternative milk, none) will contribute to buns—please comment below if you are interested in this.
The whole egg wash (with a tablespoon of water) will cause your buns to brown better, and they will end up being shiny after baking. The egg wash and most other washes will allow the seeds to stick and stay attached to the buns, so this worked great for the whole batch of 3 plain and 3 sesame seed buns.
This guy posted so many bun photos and I guess someone has to add some text, so here it is: text
The egg wash isn’t in the recipe below, so if you want your buns super shiny, don’t forget.
The cheese and the apple
At first, I wasn’t sure about the cheese and apple working well together. I read the Big Kids Instagram post out loud to my wife and her response was “well, people put cheddar cheese on apple pie all the time.” While cheese on my apple pie isn’t something that typically do, I nodded my head in agreement. Ok, she’s right.
The next few bits of conversation were about how to change the sandwich by switching up the cheese to a cheddar-based pimento spread version. So that’s where I headed.
I’ve written about pimento cheese a few times. This is my mom’s recipe that she has made for sandwiches and snacking as far back as I can remember. I also have a pimento cheese shirt in my shop if you want to go the extra mile to represent the south’s favorite cheese spread.
However, if you live in the right part of the country, you can easily find pimento cheese at your grocery store. This photo was from Walmart in Clinton, NC, where pimento cheese is pretty much expected to be available in every grocery store.
The Big Kids sandwich said a Honeycrisp variety of apple, so I first tried that. I also tried a green apple which was considerably tarter than the Honeycrisp and I think it actually worked a little better to cut the fat from the SPAM and richness of the cheese.
The apple adds some much-needed texture to this sandwich. The SPAM, if cooked until crispy, does provide texture, but the apple amps that up a notch.
The SPAM and pimento cheese sandwich recipe
Here are the four (unseared and untoasted) ingredients in this fried SPAM and pimento cheese sandwich that I made. The recipe is below, but don’t forget to scroll past the recipe if you want to see more sandwich photos.
Once you have all the components, it’s time to do the sandwich business. Keep scrolling past the recipe for more SPAM and cheese sandwich photos.
Savory and crispy slices of SPAM pair perfectly in a sandwich with creamy pimento cheese and crispy, crunchy, tart apple.
- 1 pound Cheddar cheese (mixture of sharp cheddar and medium cheddar)
- 4 ounces chopped pimentos, in a jar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3⁄4 cup mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
- salt and ground black pepper to taste
- 2 to 3 slices of SPAM (1/4 or 1/2 inch thick)
- 1 soft white sandwich bun
- 2 to 3 tablespoons pimento cheese (from above)
- 2 to 4 thin slices of apple (Honeycrisp or another tart/sweet variety)
- mayonnaise and mustard (optional)
Pimento cheese: grate cheddar in a food processor or on a hand grater.
Add cheese to a large bowl with sugar, Miracle Whip or Mayo and stir to combine.
Add back to the food processor with the blade attachment instead of the grating attachment.
Pulse the processor until you get your desired consistency.
Add half of the pimentos and some of the liquid from the jar. This will loosen the cheese mixture in the food processor a little and should allow it to become a bit smoother.
When the cheese mixture looks like it would be spreadable, taste it and add any salt and pepper it might need.
Add the remaining pimentos and all the liquid from the jar and pulse one or two more times. This will allow your pimento cheese to have visible pimentos in it. If you add the pimento all at the beginning, you will blitz it until it's all too small to see.
Package up the pimento cheese and store it in the fridge for a week or so.
Spam searing: toast your buns if you prefer.
Place a medium pan over medium-high heat.
Slice your SPAM into 3 slices around 1/4 inch thick.
After 4 or 5 minutes on the heat, add the slices of SPAM and sear each slice for 3 to 4 minutes per side. Each piece of SPAM should get some dark brown or even black color from the searing process.
When the SPAM is seared, and your buns are toasted it is time to build your sandwich.
Add mayonnaise, if using, to the bottom bun and then arrange your seared slices of SPAM onto the bottom bun.
Top the SPAM with a couple of tablespoons of pimento cheese and then top that with apple slices.
Cap everything off with the top bun and then allow the sandwich to sit for 2 or 3 minutes for everything to meld together.
Serve the sandwich and enjoy.
Fry some SPAM!
If you’re still reading, check back next week when I attempt to make my favorite fast food combo meal ever at home. My goal is to be as authentic as possible, while still making an exponentially better sandwich since we have full control of the ingredients.