Two Men, Two Pits and a Blog

How To Back Your Brothers Play: Hickory Smoked Spam Sandwiches

Author’s Preface: There is one article I have been putting off for a while, and for good reason I suppose. But I finally broke. I had to. I know we will lose some readership over this one, but alas, it is a brother thing, and it had to be done. Here then is the story as I know it to be. For better or for worse.

Part One

The Woolly Bugger

With the crunch of cold tires over hardened snow, I pulled up into elder brother’s driveway, where, as I come to idle, stray cats scatter into the woodwork. I turn off the engine, and admire how the sunbeams sparkle off a mountainous bank of snow courting the western edge of the drive, where elder brother’s prized motor home is embedded into the side of said bank, like the fossilized remnants of a bygone era. I like to stop by and visit the bloke from time to time, just to see what he’s up to. Such is the case today.

The car door shuts with a muffled clunk, and I begin to stroll up his driveway. Classic man toys abound: Trucks, Jeep, motorcycle, boats, but I take note of his little Weber Smokey Joe instead, like I usually do, or would have I guess, had not it been completely buried and forgotten in six months worth and several hundred pounds of snow. But I knew the approximate coordinates where I saw it last autumn, least wise I think I do, and I paid my respects to the pile of snow there instead. Sad. Very sad.

woolly bugger

I walk in through the kitchen door, and elder brother is standing at the sink, with his long, grayish hair floundering in a rather unruly fashion, sure to excite only a local Sasquatch at best, but he is my brother, so I don’t judge him. It appears he had just woke up anyways, rebooting as it were, the human hard drive.

I gots something to show you!” Brother belched.

He dashed down the stairs into his basement where few have ever been, or dare to go, and returns momentarily holding a little glass test tube with something dark and fuzzy in it.

What sort of specimen is that?” I queried

My latest creation“, brother croaked.”

Ohhh” ,I yammered.

“”Yes”, he went on” It is a woolly bugger I just tied, guaranteed to seduce even the most selective bass!

He was quite excited, and I nodded my head in affirmation. I didn’t have the heart to tell him however, it looked like a conglomeration of something he has been plucking out of his belly button every morning in the shower before work.

“Very nice, brother”, I lamented. “And say,” I said shifting the subject, “I noticed something outside you should be aware of. Your BBQ grill is very, very unhappy. You need to dig that thing out!”

Elder brother hung his head, his bottom lip protruding in stark remorse.

“I don’t have it in me, little brother”, he said.”The art of winter grilling has not fallen to this side of the family tree.”

The room fell silent, the way rooms always do when one admits their BBQ ineptness. I should like to also say, tho unoriginal, that the silence was only broken by the sound of mating crickets, but in point of fact, any crickets around here were still frozen stiff.

Maybe you could grill something for me???” Brother yammered in soft, mono-toned voice, thus breaking the silence.

I could I suppose” I said, staring calmly at the woolly bugger.

Then I could live vicariously through you”, brother croaked, “and keep my BBQ honor intact, while you gleam the glory!

My eyebrow rose, as I scanned the intent of his face which was lightly flaked with day old mustard.

Sounds good my hairy brother“, I belched, “What would you like me to BBQ for you? You name it, and consider it done!

Little did I know he would take the matter most seriously of course, and like a misguided dictator of a powerful army, he would steer the troops into a position of high compromise. And so brother thoughtfully stroked his scruffy beard as an enormous smile formed across his face.

“Would you grill me a spam sandwich and write about it?” he croaked, “I just love those things!”

“I certainly will not!” I grumbled.

“But you said you would BBQ me anything!” brother declared

Yes but, I’m only thinking of your health, not to mention the readership of POTP. They are used to a finer fare than jellied ghetto meat!

“But you said!”

“Fine…”

If there is anything I have learned about the heady bond of brotherhood, it is that the bond goes deeper than logic or good sense. And that you have to back your bothers play. You got to look the woolly bugger square in the face and say, I don’t get you sometimes, but what ever. Lets party.

 

Part Two

The Deed

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So it was tonight, many weeks hence, under stormy skies, the kind of April showers that soon waxed to sleet and then to snow. By the time I had the coals lit, the first sloppy, white flakes of an April blizzard were hitting the ground. That is how it has been this winter; ever-challenging for the northern pit keepers to get out and BBQ. But we find a way. It took a couple of tries to get the coals lit as the packing pellet-like snow fell from the heavens, but we got it done. Anyways, whilst the coals matured, I rummaged through the bowels of my pantry and found a lowly and forgotten can of spam.

Spam for the uninitiated, is a sort of processed meat that which many folk turn their noses up, tho it does have a faithful following from eccentric individuals, like elder brother. It is also yet another thrust in food technology, conceived and manufactured here in Minnesota. It is already cooked, and it keeps for years on end. Which comes in handy as an apocalyptic meat I suppose. You can eat it cold or hot. Slice it or dice it. You can do what ever you want with it I guess. Today, in honor of elder brother, we shall slow smoke the questionable meat amid a lavish bath of hickory and cherry wood smoke. We will take this greasy, pressed-meat cube and attempt to usher it unto a better place. Wish us luck!

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So we sliced the contents of the can into 4 crude squares, putting them indirect, and tossed some onions on the cast iron griddle insert to saute. The polish sausage was merely an insurance policy on the off-chance this BBQ went decidedly south. Also, a special thanks to Rolf, at Craycort Grills for setting us up with this griddle accsessory. This is the first chance we’ve had to use it, and we absolutely love it. More to come on this toy in a future post.

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Ah the smell of onions frying up in some butter over a beautiful bed of coals. Aromas reminiscent of a major league ball park. The soft tap of snow flakes on the brim of my hat, and their inevitable sizzle upon the hot cast iron grate below. This was ambiance. This is why we grill outside in winter. When the onions were sweet and complete, we took them off the pit, and replaced the old enameled lid. The wood smoke soon took draft, and a blend of hickory and cherry gently curled from the damper. I slipped my hands into my smoking jacket, like pit keepers do, and considered the day.

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For canned meat it didn’t smell too bad, I thought. But then wood smoke can make even a grungy woodsman three days into the same underwear smell good. This I know. Don’t ask me how. And whilst the plumes of aroma emanated from the pit, the snow flakes fell gently to the earth, slowly cloaking the dear patch of grass that just last week I wallowed like a puppy in. Winter is a fickle lady indeed. But one in which I gladly accept, on her terms, if but to grill but one humble sandwich beneath her lovely yet demanding skies.

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The last order of business was to apply the cheese and toast the hoagie roll that I picked special for the occasion. Now if you’re going to grill a Spam sandwich, you might as well use Velveeta cheese. I know what you’re saying. That stuff ain’t cheese. And you’re right. But spam ain’t meat either, so who cares. It just makes sense. Plus, Velveeta is elder brothers most favorite cheese, and this sandwich, after all, is in his honor. Anyways, whence the cheese went gooey, and the roll toasted up nicely, we brought the goods inside and thus assembled the masterpiece. And on that note, it’s not a sandwich to elder brother if it doesn’t first have some mayonnaise involved. So we were sure to put some of that in there too.

Man! Grilled onions smothered in cheese, a light tang of mayonnaise, and hickory scented spam on a toasted hoagie roll. The first bite was reminiscent of a hot bologna sandwich or something. The next bite disturbingly better. It was all uphill from there. And I must admit, I ate the whole thing happily. Well, all except that which my lovely bride curiously inhaled despite her premeditated prejudices towards the canned meat. All things considered, it was pretty good for a highly processed, pressed meat sandwich. I slurped it down, go figure, like a bass to a woolly bugger. And more importantly, I had backed my brothers play. Amen.

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Slow Hickory Smoked Spam Sandwich, with sauteed onions and Velveeta Cheese on a toasted Hoagie Roll. Hey, you could do worse and not have nearly so much fun.

 

 

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49 responses

  1. Now that’s a sandwich! 🙂

    April 4, 2014 at 8:07 am

  2. I have a family friend, and my son’s babysitter when he was little, and she grew up up North, and loves Spam. She made me a grilled spamwich, on a hot dog bun. She said that was the only way to go. And you know – it wasn’t that bad! I did buy some Spam and try to recreate it, but alas, I couldn’t, and haven’t touched another can since then.

    And, uh huh Velveeta is a real cheese! It’s the only way to make a grilled cheese sandwich! 🙂

    April 4, 2014 at 8:09 am

    • That’s funny. I do like Velveeta, I must admit that. Spam, well, the conditions have to right!

      Thanks Kate

      April 4, 2014 at 8:25 am

    • Velvetta is the only cheese that is acceptable for stove top mac and cheese…

      April 4, 2014 at 6:13 pm

      • And then, when it’s time to go for pure comfort food, and we fry up the burritos and top them with chili, and then slice up that Velveeta. Toss it in the oven for a few and then go to taste bud heaven!
        🙂

        April 4, 2014 at 6:19 pm

      • Mercy! Sounds great!

        April 4, 2014 at 6:25 pm

  3. Spam is the official meat of Hawaii, it is revered and sold everywhere, there is even spam sushi rolls. My Mom on occasion fried spam and served with over easy eggs, I actually liked it when the spam got crusty.The spam sandwich actually looks good, I bet it wasn’t half bad or at least half good.

    April 4, 2014 at 8:19 am

    • I did not know that! That’s kind of cool about Hawaii. I confess I did enjoy the sandwich, but probably more for the onions and cheese and bread. What can you do! The stuff serves it’s purpose.

      April 4, 2014 at 8:27 am

  4. fabianalvareza

    Reblogged this on Fabián.

    April 4, 2014 at 8:40 am

  5. Lol, great story! I haven’t had Spam in many, many many years. Still don’t know if I’ll break my Spam-less streak…but I must admit, this sandwich does look great!

    April 4, 2014 at 8:46 am

    • Thank you! I don’t blame you one way or the other if you need to maintain spamlessness in your life. But the sandwich was pretty good!

      April 4, 2014 at 8:55 am

  6. With apologies to ABC’s Wide World Of Sports – Spaming the world to bring you the best in BBQ

    April 4, 2014 at 9:32 am

  7. Spam is fashionable again, along with all those other retro meals like prawn cocktail and chicken and chips in the basket. I know it’s not real food compared to what you usually do, but I have such happy memories of the stuff. Spam fritters were a treat when I ate school dinners. I suppose it brings back thoughts of comfort.
    I LOVE that you did this for your brother and I enjoyed the ride. I thought your writing was particularly bright and sparkly on this post. I really enjoyed it!-Karen.

    April 4, 2014 at 10:04 am

    • Spam fritters you say? Never had that!

      Anyways, thanks for the comment, Karen. Yours always come by as heart felt and genuine. Thus, I look forwards to them!

      Take care,
      Potp

      April 4, 2014 at 10:21 am

  8. I can’t do it…no matter what you say…NO SPAM!!! But…doesn’t everything taste better with cheese!!!

    April 4, 2014 at 11:15 am

  9. I love fried Spam! But you have to be the first person EVER to bbq it. You probably already know this, but Hawaii is the largest consumer of Spam in the United States. In fact, their McDonalds have it with a side of rice on their breakfast menue.

    April 4, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    • Why is it that I’m not surprised you are a spam fan!

      I did not know McDonalds did that. Wow! Learning all matter of stuff today!

      April 4, 2014 at 3:02 pm

  10. I used to love fried spam but, alas, drifted away from the simple meat by-product many years ago. Perhaps when we visit our son in Hawaii we will try some.

    A few years back I was shopping in a bulk food type store in Ohio and saw some off-brand spam. Kind of like you see in drug stores with their own name brand saying, “compare to Bayer…” Made me wonder…

    I also was wondering what they would call Spam in Spanish? “Cerca de cerdo” (Close to pork) or “Cerdo subproducto bajo presion” (Pork by-products under pressure)

    In any event – we loved the post and the sandwich looked great! living in a foreign country one learns not to look too closely at what one is eating anyway. As long as it tastes good – go for it.

    April 4, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    • Thanks John and Mary in Ecuador.

      Wow, some one invented a knock off spam! Man oh man. But I suppose, being its a proven path to money, somebody would try it.

      I agree, let us not look too closely at what you’re eating in a foreign country. Ask the Lord to bless it first tho. You just never know!

      April 4, 2014 at 6:39 pm

  11. As a child Spam was a staple in our diet, we couldn’t afford anything else. Even then it was kept for dinner, or Sunday lunch. Having it smoked would be great. I must say I love your story telling style. Oh, let us know if the woolly bugger works will you?
    Cheers
    Laurie.

    April 4, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    • Many thanks, Laurie. Had fun writing this one. Not to mention cooking it. And it’s been fun to hear from so many how Spam tugs back memories long since passed. Who knew canned meat could do so much!

      April 4, 2014 at 6:31 pm

  12. That was a great read. Brought a smile to my face. I do have a dark secret to share. I love Spam. I’ve actually been to the Spam museum. Drove past it on a business trip and figured it was a great place to burn some time. It was well worth the trip. Anyway, I digress. Spam is something I do every once in awhile to remember how I grew up. Each bite is a decadent treat that I should not like, but I do. I am a Spam lover and I am not ashamed!

    April 4, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    • Thanks kindly, Bill. It is kind of fun to see the spam lovers come out of the closet here, so to speak. Who knew there were so many of you! I might have to swing by that museum some day too. Sounds fun.

      April 4, 2014 at 6:27 pm

  13. Ron Duke

    If there isn’t a can in the cupboard it’s off to the grocery store for a can and some plastic cheese. Many thanks mate.

    April 4, 2014 at 6:34 pm

  14. Very well written.. Least the spam was the reduced sodium type..

    April 5, 2014 at 1:57 am

  15. According to Wiki…Spam is a canned precooked meat product made by the Hormel Foods Corporation, first introduced in 1937. The labeled ingredients in the classic variety of Spam are chopped pork shoulder meat, with ham meat added, salt, water, modified potato starch as a binder, sugar, and sodium nitrite as a preservative. Spam’s gelatinous glaze, or aspic, forms from the cooling of meat stock.
    So I suppose it does resemble real food. 🙂 However, I think you have taken it to a whole new level.

    April 5, 2014 at 10:29 am

    • Thanks TJ! Yeah if you’re going to cook up some spam, you might as well swing for the fences, right. I actually just tossed the left overs in my omelette this morning. Not too bad

      April 5, 2014 at 10:51 am

  16. Oh my gravy all over my two scoops rice (that’s OMG! in my world) back home in Hawaii you’ll find Spam all over the place! The residents of Hawaii eat more Spam per capita than any other State.
    http://mykitcheninthemiddleofthedesert.wordpress.com/2013/04/22/spam-spam-spam-and-spam/

    ALOHA!

    April 5, 2014 at 10:33 am

    • Aloha Auntiedoni! That was a fun little link, thanks! So much one can do with this meat like substance!

      April 5, 2014 at 10:47 am

  17. Don’t knock it til you try it. Great job. I’m not a big fan of spam either, but was asked to make bacon wrapped spam. It was surprisingly good, but a little too salty for me.

    April 5, 2014 at 10:36 pm

  18. D'squared

    Good read, it has been a while since my last piece of spam but I honestly think I would enjoy it if you where cooking it!

    April 6, 2014 at 7:43 pm

  19. Reblogged this on dollcoronel.

    April 7, 2014 at 11:55 am

  20. Liz

    I love this story! Well told. Especially like that you pick Velveeta for Spam because neither is real. I’m not fond of either, but came home tonight from a meeting to find that my husband had used my absence to sneak out and buy a pack of Velveeta to use for a mac and cheese supper. And haha, Spam. I can’t speak poorly of it because 1) The Spam Museum in Austin rocks–have you been? and 2) Hormel is a client and I’ve edited many a Spam recipe. It’s a Minnesota thing and Minnesotans can’t be getting all uppity about not approving of Spam.

    Also, loved the tie-in with the fishing lure. You’re very good with description.

    April 7, 2014 at 10:54 pm

    • Aww thanks much Liz. Nope, never been to the spam museum yet. I guess I need too now, as folks make it sound like a good time. Who knew!
      Perhaps I foresee a special road trip this summer, to The Land of Spam.

      April 7, 2014 at 11:16 pm

  21. I have to admit, when I first saw the word Spam I was a bit hesitant. But after seeing your end result I have to say that this is might actually be worth trying. Thanks!

    April 8, 2014 at 10:55 pm

  22. Only a Wordsmith such as yourself could weave such an enticing yarn around a COMPLETELY UN-enticing selection of protein … well done (again) my Smokie Brutha. “Almost” makes me wanna try one myself !! Stay hungry friend.

    April 9, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    • Well thank you kindly, old chap. It’ll be a while before I cook up one of these again, but it was kind of fun for a change of pace.

      Shifting the subject…

      I think I can hear your motorcycle from here, restless in the garage! It’s that time of the year again. Man, seems like you and I were just talking about this sort of thing, and here another year has passed. To warmers days, Mr butcher, and motorcycles, and melted lakes, and perfectly smoked racks of ribs. Here we go again!

      April 9, 2014 at 4:03 pm

  23. Ah yes … the Winter of 2014 was a WICKED one indeed. With the Ice storm that left us without power for 6 cold days in December, and snowfall after snowfall, to the brutal, record breaking cold temps. It does make a man dream of BBQ’s and twisty Motorcycle back roads. But, … you know what ??? I STILL love the Winter and all the outtdoor activities we love (as only Northerners could) to do. And … I wouldn’t change a thing. To me … it makes you really appreciate where we live and the coming anticipation of the changing seasons. Huh … go figure. Stay hungry my chilly, smokie Brutha.

    April 9, 2014 at 4:22 pm

  24. Grilled onions (and peppers) will save any sandwich…… even SPAM. Good save.

    April 12, 2014 at 6:23 am

    • Ah peppers, that would have been good too. Totally slipped my brain, and I even had a pepper in stock. Aw well. Yes, it was a most difficult adversary, this canned meat, but we got her done.

      Thanks Mr Dodd!

      April 12, 2014 at 9:15 am

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