Hear ye, hear ye! The knights of the conference room table have spoken, and they’ve crowned a winner in the 2016 Spam Jam recipe contest.
All hail, Pedro Ramirez of Grand Prairie, who created an eye popping Spam Picadillo and Rice Stuffed Pepper dish that wowed our panel of judges and edged out several other terrific finalists, including Spamon patties and Spamchiladas.
A teacher at Kipp Prep School in Dallas, Ramirez says he has always loved to cook and has even competed in a few competitions. But he was especially intrigued by this one because he’d never actually cooked with the canned meat before. (Its primary ingredients are pork shoulder, ham and salt.)
The judges, including Eats Beat columnist Bud Kennedy and Weekend Chef Steve Wilson, were impressed with the way Ramirez balanced the inherent salty Spaminess of the star ingredient with so many other subtle but distinctive spices. “Is this really Spam?” one of the judges remarked on her scoresheet. “Very good!” another said. “Spicy and not Spamy at all.”
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Ramirez’s toasted yellow peppers were bursting with flavor from bacon, ancho peppers, chorizo, garlic, onions crushed red pepper, chili powder, cinnamon and red-wine marinated Spam. A bed of flash-fried spinach surrounding the peppers made the plate a feast for the eyes, too.
The Spam Jam recipe contest, co-sponsored by the Star-Telegram, Casa Mañana and Tarrant Area Food Bank, celebrates the run of Spamalot at Casa, June 4-12. (Just in case you didn’t know, the Monty Python musical, King Arthur’s knights “eat ham and jam and spamalot.”)
Ramirez now advances to opening night, June 4, where he’ll face off against several local chefs in the ultimate Spam Jam smackdown. The crowd will get to sample the competitors’ dishes between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m., and vote for their favorites with a donated canned good. (Showtime 8 p.m.) For tickets and info, go to the Casa website.
All eight finalists won tickets to Spamalot and will have their recipes included in a Spam recipe cookbook, which will be available for sale at the Star-Telegram. Proceeds benefit the Tarrant Area Food Bank.
The finalists included: Susie Roberts, SPAMon patties; SPAMchiladas, Patricia Lira; Grilled Spam & Veggie Alfredo, Lori Woodard; Joan Hallford, Dad’s fried rice; Huevos Rancheros with Spam Chorizo links, Gene Jackson; Thai Larb Spam, Brent and Tyra Burrow; Hot SPAMwiches, Gayle Bradburn.