“Quick disclaimer,” says Butcher Brent Young in front of a stack of signature blue and yellow spam cans. “Don’t try this at home!”
Ben Turley and Brent Young of Brooklyn’s The Meat Hook take up a new experiment in this episode of Prime time: make your own spam. But, as they explain, “canning cans is incredibly dangerous and the USDA takes it incredibly seriously.” So leave this to the meat experts and just enjoy their process.
You open a can of Spam to begin a taste and texture test and see a list of ingredients. They believe that using pork shoulder and pieces of ham can bring them closer to the taste and texture of the original. They grind cubes of each together with ice to bind the meat to maintain their mixture. Next, they add salt, sugar, pink hardening salt, and sodium tripolyphosphate. Each of these ingredients serves an important purpose, be it to bind the meat, to flavor it, to prevent it from going rancid, or to keep botulism spores away.
Next comes the canned food. Ben and Brent fill five ounce self-sealing cans with their meat mix. They bring out a pressure scanner (no pressure Stovewhich would be dangerous to use as there is no temperature meter as Brent clarifies) and add their cans to the bottom along with boiling water. They seal it and turn on the pressure, explaining that the bacteria that cause botulism die when the scanner reads 240-250 PSI. You leave the meat in the scanner for 60 minutes.
Once the cans have cooled, open them to see the results. The two versions look similar, but when fried to compare and contrast, it seems like the original Spam is much better caramelized. “I feel like there’s more sugar in them,” concludes Brent. “I think we took the detour to create a breakfast sausage,” says Brent after trying her version. “We’re still not anywhere near the salt,” added Ben. The two give each other a grade from B to B minus letters for their experiment.
“I have to say, I have a whole new idea of what spam is,” says Brent. “This is a really cool thing we made, but it definitely doesn’t compare to spam.” Ben’s ultimate takeaway: “Spam is spam and everything else is different.”