Sunday 2 March 2014

National Spam Appreciation Week - Spam and Mushroom Filled Pancakes

Spam, spam, spammity spam - I'm not really a Monty Python fan and I wasn't sure I remembered ever having eaten Spam either, though according to my mother we had it a lot when I was a child!

March 3rd sees the start of National Spam Appreciation Week and it seemed a good time to reintroduce my tastebuds to the chopped pork and ham that is Spam. The name apparently comes from the description of spiced pork and ham. Did you know that it was invented during a meat crisis- but rather than when meat was scarce, it was when there was too much meat? There was an excess of pork which would not keep for long, and the head of Hormel Food Company in Minnesota had the idea of grinding up the pork, mixing it with ham and cooking it to create a long-life meat product. This was all the way back in 1937 and Spam has been around ever since. It is widely associated with war time when meat was more scarce - and also famous due to the Monty Python sketch and Spamalot musical.

I think people who turn their nose up at canned meat should also ask themselves whether they have ever eaten corned beef, as that's not much different  - and that was another staple of my childhood. I buy tinned ham occasionally as I think it works really well in pasta bakes, and I found that the Spam had a similar taste and texture.

I was sent three packs of Spam to try out - it's also interesting that it now comes in plastic tubs, so you don't need a tin opener - making it ideal to take on camping trips or picnics. I had a look at the Spam website where there are loads of recipes, and chose to make these Spam and Mushroom Filled Pancakes (or "Spamcakes"!). I made them for lunch with my parents and we all really enjoyed them. I made it slightly differently to the directions, as time was ticking on and I didn't want to wait the extra 20 minutes to cook the pancakes in the oven at the end, and so rather than sprinkle the cheese over the top I incorporated it into the sauce, which was delicious. I also doubled the quantity of the pancake mixture given, but I did make quite large, thick pancakes, so that part is up to you!

To serve three/four, you need:

For the pancakes:
200g plain flour
pinch of salt
3 eggs
500ml milk
Oil or Fry Light for frying

For the filling:
340g can of Spam chopped pork and ham, diced
1 small onion, finely chopped
115g mushrooms, sliced
50g butter
40g plain flour
300ml milk
100ml single cream
60g grated cheddar

I started on the filling first, as it took a little longer and the pancakes were quite quick,though I would also recommend making the pancake batter and allowing it to stand while you make the filling.

Fry the onion and mushrooms in a small frying pan. Meanwhile melt the butter in a small pan and stir in the flour to make a roux. Beat in a little of the milk and then gradually add the rest of the milk and the single cream. Stir in the grated cheddar and heat the sauce until melted then stir in the onion, mushrooms and diced Spam. Heat until the sauce has thickened.

For the pancakes, make a well in the flour in a bowl and break in the eggs; beat in a little of the milk to make a paste then the rest of the milk and the salt. Heat some oil or Fry Light in a frying pan, pour in a thin layer of pancake batter and cook on both sides until browned. Keep the pancakes warm either in the oven or under a layer of foil.

When the filling has thickened, spoon onto each pancake.

I rolled the pancakes but I think they would have looked nicer folded in half to make a semicircle. Either way, they tasted delicious!

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