As a kid, I was the pickiest eater. My favourite meal was plain white rice, if even that. Mostly, my mom let me get away with eating bowls of Cocoa Pebbles for dinner. There were a couple of other things that I would deign to eat – one of them was spam. Or, rather, luncheon meat. We didn’t actually eat spam brand spam. Instead my mom bought Chinese luncheon meat that came in a round can with an orange and blue wrapper. When I saw my mom whip out the can opener, I would get super excited because there would be something to eat with my rice.
For me, the natural extension of spam and rice is, of course, spam mac and cheese. It’s what I make when I want bacon mac and cheese but don’t have bacon in the fridge. When you think about it, spam is essentially shelf stable bacon. It’s made of pork, pleasantly salty (go for the low sodium version, I find the regular just a touch TOO salty), and fries up to an addictive crisp.
One of mac and cheese’s selling points is how fast it comes together. And if you want it even faster, skip out on the extra cheese and baking time. I’m addicted to the crunchy cheese lid that happens when mac and cheese is baked, but sometimes I make straight up stovetop too. If you can wait the extra time for baking, do it because even after baking, this mac and cheese is creamy, cheesy and gooey and studded with crispy cubes of pork. I baked it up in tiny individual portions in an attempt to exercise some self control, but all that ended up happening was more dishes to wash. Oops.
Spam Mac and Cheese Recipe
serves 4 – 6
- 2 cups macaroni or small pasta of choice
- 1/2 can of spam*
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 1/2 cups milk
- salt, to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 2 cups grated cheese of choice, plus 1 extra cup for topping
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Boil your macaroni until al dente, according the package. While the macaroni is cooking, cut up your spam into small cubes and fry in dry, nonstick skillet over medium low heat until brown and crispy. Flip occasionally so all sides are crisp. When brown, remove from the pan and drain on paper towels. Set aside.
When the macaroni is finished, rinse with cold water and set aside until your sauce is finished.
In a large sauté pan or skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and stir constantly for about three minutes, until completely smooth and incorporated. Pour in 1 cup of the milk in a thin stream while whisking. It will start out lumpy, but keep whisking and it will smooth out into a thick paste. Add the rest of the milk and whisk until smooth. Keep on medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Remove from the heat and add the pepper, 2 cups of cheese, and half of the spam cubes. Stir until cheese is melted. Add the drained pasta and gently mix. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
Pour the mac and cheese into an oven proof container and sprinkle on the remaining 1 cup of cheese and reserved spam cubes. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until cheese is melted and golden brown. Enjoy hot.
Note: I felt like 1/2 can of spam was more than enough, but if you’re feeling extra spam-licious, feel free to use the whole can. If that’s the case, you most likely won’t need any additional salt.