Since I started down the road of BBQ, I have come to appreciate a great number of delicious foods which previously I never even dreamed possible. Pulled Pork was an entirely new thing to me and is now an all time favorite. Then I heard about people ccoking up Bologna in their smokers and it is now included among my favorites. Among other favorite food items I have only discovered because of BBQ are ABT's, Armadillo Eggs, Pig Candy and Fatties. Yes, BBQ has truly expanded my exposure to good food, perhaps more than any other thing I have ever encountered.
Recently some talk on these forums went to the subject of Spam. It was not the first time I had heard about Spam. Who hasn't heard of Spam? However, when I tried to picture it in the context of true low and slow smokey BBQ then it went into unknown territory. Considering the wonderful transformations other meats went through when smoked up into BBQ (briskets for example) it made me wonder what kind of tasty, moist and tender product could be created with Spam in low and slow BBQ?
So I picked up a package of four Spam (plural form of Spam is Spam according to Hormel) at Sams Club.
I figured with four of them I could try a few different techniques to explore the potential of Spam in the BBQ pit. The total weight of all four Spam was 48oz, and the price for the package of four was $7.76. This works out to roughly $2.59 per pound. Each Spam came pre-packaged in a can with each can being the exact same size.
Opening the cans revealed that they each contained exactly 12oz of Spam. I never get that kind of luck when buying butts or briskets, but Spam appears to be much more predictable.
The first Spam will be the control group, and will simply get a coating of salt-free rub and then cooked in the smoker until it is ready. I chose to use a salt-free rub because Spam comes ready-flavored with salt and is a little high in sodium. I am concerned that adding more salt could perhaps jeapordize the entire piece of meat. As for target cooking temperature I wasn't sure initially what that could be since none of my meat thermometers have any indicators for what the safe cooking temperature of Spam is. So I looked thoroughly over the Spam packaging and saw the following, "FULLY COOKED, READY TO EAT-COLD OR HOT". Unfortunately it did not say HOW hot. I decided that if 165 is good enough for a chicken, then it should be good enough for Spam. After cooking I will let it rest to redistribute the juices throughout the meat and then make up my mind whether to slice or chop at serving time.
The second Spam will also get the salt-free rub but I will foil it after a couple hours in the smoker. I know foiling can be a very controversial subject, and I am not necessarily indicating my general approval or disapproval on the subject of foiling in BBQ. Instead I am doing this to provide a side-by-side taste comparison. I am strictly doing both foiled and non-foiled Spams in the name of science and food progress. I will foil similar to foiling ribs by adding a little brown sugar, apple juice and butter. After the foiling I plan to let this Spam finish unfoiled in the smoker for the last 30 minutes in order to firm up the bark.
The third Spam will be cooked the same as the first Spam, but after cooking it I will chop it up into small cubes, sprinkle with some more rub, and then put back in the smoker for about another 4 hours to make Burnt Ends of Spam.
The final Spam will be cold smoked in my offset smoker. This means it will be cooked at temps below 100 degrees with wood smoke drifting around it to flavor the meat. This is the same means I use to smoke cheese with wonderful results. Since Spam is a product that can be eaten cold, I should be able to safely cold smoke it. Hormel sells a variety of Spam called Smoked Spam, but it probably uses Liquid smoke!
Here are the Spam all rubbed up and ready to go (the cold smoked one has no rub).
I'll be letting them get happy with the rub overnight and cooking them up tomorrow! I'll keep everybody posted. I'm sure many of you will be hanging on the edge of your seats for this one!