When I was growing up, Spam was a joke. Sure, some of us ate it at home, maybe on camping trips. But no one actually liked it. Spam was old-fashioned, and not in a fun, vintage way. It was a sign that your folks were worried about their paycheck. Or it was something Grandma served you when you visited her, because why keep fresh meat around when you eat like a bird?
In the 1990s, it was something you wore on your T-shirt, with a side of irony. We call unwanted emails spam, for crying out loud.
So when we were invited to the launch of the great Spamerican! Food Truck Tour, I did not exactly leap out of my chair. But then I heard celeb chef Sunny Anderson was going to be there, so that made me wonder if I should maybe give Spam a chance.
At the Spam food truck, I tried musubi, which is a slab of Spam on rice wrapped in nori, which is a big deal in Hawaii. And I tried a Spam banh mi sandwich, which makes sense, because banh mi is traditionally made with some kind of Vietnamese pork roll. Am I going to eat Spam every day? Heck, no. But maybe next time I won’t be in such a hurry to turn up my nose at it. It has its culinary place — and it’s been a literal lifesaver for many people over the years.
And then there were Anderson’s Operation Spam Gravy with Biscuits, which she created in partnership with Operation Gratitude, an organization that honors military veterans. (Did you know Anderson is a U.S. Air Force vet?) Her recipe is a super-flavorful improvement over the classic SOS soldiers eat at base canteens everywhere.
Operation Spam Gravy with Biscuits recipe
For the gravy
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 can Spam, finely chopped (like coarse ground sausage)
- 6 – 8 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
- 1-1/2 cups (about 6 ounces) frozen pearl onions, thawed
- 8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, grated
- Kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper
- 4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1-1/2 cups beef stock
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 (7.5-ounce) can (8 large) buttermilk biscuits, baked according to the instructions
- 2 green onions, white and green parts finely chopped
- In a large saucepan, cook the butter, olive oil, selected Spam variety and thyme. Season with salt and pepper, and cook over medium heat until the Spam is golden and crispy in areas, about 10 minutes.
- Using a slotted spoon, remove the Spam from the pan, and place it on a paper towel-lined plate, leaving the fat in the pan.
- Add the onions to the pan, season with salt, and cook while stirring until they become tender and slightly translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add the mushrooms and garlic, stirring constantly to cook gently until the mushrooms are tender and darkened, about 5 minutes more.
- Add the Worcestershire sauce and horseradish.
- Increase the heat to medium-high, and slowly add the beef stock, stirring constantly.
- Cook until slightly thickened, then slowly stir in the heavy cream. Simmer until the cream is thickened slightly, about 4 minutes.
- Remove from the heat, stir in the reserved Spam, and season with salt to taste.
- Pour the gravy over the cooked biscuits, and sprinkle with onions.
If the Spam food truck comes your way, you should check it out — help put together care packages, and write letters for our troops!