Katherine Dorsett is an editor and producer at CNN. She reeeaaaaalllly loves SPAM.
I admit it. I love SPAM. It's delicious.
I know it's the butt of many jokes, but I don't care. It tastes good to me and I'm clearly not alone, since it has been around since 1937.
The winners of the "Great American SPAM Championship" have been announced, bringing joy to SPAM fans the world over. The competition (an annual event since 1991) this year called for creative macaroni and cheese-inspired SPAM dishes. More than 800 people participated in the contest, with the finals bringing all the winning recipes from state and county fairs across the United States together in a head-to-head battle.
58 year old Linda Graft of Floweree, Montana, won this year's challenge with her "SPAMaroni & Cheese Swaddlers" recipe.
My home cooked version of her recipe (yes, I tried it for myself) tasted really good, too, and took about 25 minutes to make.
Graft's dish combines SPAM Classic with Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses, elbow macaroni, evaporated milk and green chilies. The recipe says to "swaddle" the mixture in crescent roll dough and top the pockets with egg white and sesame seeds. Graft says the dish is tasty, hearty and portable. I found it to be so.
If Graft's recipe leaves you wanting more, then you could also attempt to cook up the winning recipe from the SPAM Kid Chef contest.
Sixteen-year-old Meredith Williams of Searcy, Arkansas, won for her "creamy SPAM and pasta nachos." She beat over 226 kids who entered SPAM recipes at state fairs in 2010.
The judges said they loved the 10th grader's snack for its texture and colorful variety of ingredients. I'm looking forward to trying this recipe in my own kitchen - and you can, too.
Linda Graft's SPAMaroni & Cheese Swaddlers
1 cup dry small elbow macaroni
1 (12-ounce) can SPAM Classic, minced
1 cup evaporated milk
2 tablespoons chopped green chilies
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup shredded mild Cheddar cheese
4 slices Pepper Jack cheese, chopped
2 (8-ounce) cans crescent seamless dough sheets
(or 2 cans crescent roll dough)*
1 egg white, beaten
Cook macaroni for 10 minutes; drain. In bowl, combine macaroni with SPAMClassic, evaporated milk, green chilies and the shredded and sliced cheese. Stir mixture for 2 minutes to soften the cheese; set aside. Remove crescent dough sheets from packages and cut each rectangle into 4 squares (you should have a total of 8 squares). Place 1/2 cup of the macaroni mixture in the center of each crescent square. Pull up corners, pinch seams together and twist tops ends. Place filled squares on ungreased baking sheets. Brush each square with egg white and sprinkle with sesame seeds over the top. Bake at 375 degrees F for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serves 8.
*If using crescent roll dough, roll out crescent rolls (2 triangles together) to make a square.
Meredith Williams' Creamy SPAM & Pasta Nachos
2 cups cooked elbow macaroni
1 (12-ounce) can SPAM with Bacon, cubed
1/2 (12-ounce) can SPAM Oven Roasted Turkey, cut in julienne strips
5 tablespoons brown sugar
30-40 wonton wrappers
Oil, for frying wontons
1 (16-ounce) jar Alfredo sauce, divided
1-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup sliced green onions
Cook macaroni as package directs; drain and set aside. Place SPAM products in a large skillet and sprinkle with brown sugar. Cook over medium heat until golden brown; set aside. Next, cut wonton wrappers diagonally in half, making triangles. Cook wontons in hot oil until crisp and lightly browned; drain well on paper towels. Place fried wontons onto a baking sheet(s) and place in warm oven. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, heat Alfredo sauce. Stir 1 cup of the Alfredo sauce into the cooked macaroni. To serve, top the chips with the SPAM® mixture, macaroni, cheeses, sun-dried tomatoes and drizzle with the remaining Alfredo sauce. Return nachos to the warm oven and heat until the cheese melts, about 5 minutes. Top nachos with sliced green onions and serve immediately. Serves 8-10.