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Jan. 9 canned meat

January 09, 2002

Meat in a can



A few cans of meat in your cupboard plus an imagination can yield very credible edibles

By KEVIN CLAPP
kevinc@herald-mail.com


Looking to fix a quick meal without the hassle of running to the store for fresh meat? Keep the pantry stocked with canned foodstuffs like SPAM, ham, turkey or chicken and the fix will be in, easily.

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"I think SPAM is a misunderstood product," says Nick Meyer, product manager for SPAM, a division of Hormel. "Tuna in a can you wouldn't think twice about, but then you get to SPAM in a can or ham in a can and you think 'Wait a second.' But it shouldn't be that way."

The meat is portable, long-lasting, versatile ... not a whole lot unlike most air fresheners, though that is neither here nor there.

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Instead, look at canned meats as the ultimate in convenience foods: portable, long-lasting and versatile.

Looking for something different for breakfast? Try a side of canned ham, SPAM or turkey. For dinner, take advantage of the cheaper cost of canned meat to simmer a pot of meat sauce to be served over rice, with pasta or as a homemade pizza sauce (see recipe).

"Any time you use canned goods it's cheaper," says Hagerstown resident Judith Boyd, owner of Ms. Judy's Home Cook'n N Catering. "I also get to save time because I use some canned goods in my dishes, but that's just to save time."

According to information from Washington County Cooperative Extension family and consumer sciences extension educator Lynn F. Little, canned meats provide nutrients such as iron and protein. And, since they often have a long shelf life - anywhere from six months to two years depending on the product - they are perfect staples to stock shelves with in anticipation of winter storms.

For more than a decade, SPAM has sponsored a yearly recipe competition to solicit new and exotic ways to serve the ham and pork product. Meyer says he is constantly surprised by the concoctions people, including more than 1,400 last year, come up with. Last year's grand prize winner, from Estelle Schmidt who entered her recipe for SPAM cupcakes at the Kansas State Fair competition.

"It's not just put a slice of SPAM on a slice of bread and call it a SPAM burger," he says. "It could be a breakfast meat or a dinner meat in a casserole or with something else."

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