Hawaiian Inspired Spam & Beans

1 can Spam, cubed
1 onion, chopped
1/2 mango, cubed
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb navy beans
1/2 cup cup chili sauce (like Heinz)
6 oz pineapple juice
1 tablespoon five spice powder
1 tablespoon rum
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon hickory liquid smoke
1/2 teaspoon allspice
sea salt
freshly ground pepper

The day before you want to serve: Place the beans in a pot and fill until the beans are under about 4 inches of water.

The next day: drain the beans and pour them into the slow cooker. Add all of the remaining ingredients except the spam. Cook on low 8-10 hours or until the beans are soft. Fry the Spam in a nonstick skillet until quite crisp and nearly caramelized around the 7 to 8 hour mark. Thoroughly drain the spam on paper towel lined plates. Stir into the Spam. If the beans are looking a little dry and are not quite done, add a little water or pineapple juice. Continue cooking at least 1/2 hour after adding the Spam. Stir before serving.

My thoughts:

Okay, I am normally not a Spam eater much less a Spam enthusiast but when I was trying to think of easy, won’t heat up the house side dishes to serve with a vaguely Hawaiian themed meal I was making for friends, baked beans came to mind. I made these tropical baked beans in the slow cooker a few years back (and a version of them appears in my cookbook–which is shipping out now BTW–) and loved them. It is really easy but a little nerve-wracking because the beans go from being pale and not quite cooked to brown and soft and baked bean-y looking really late in the cooking process. But it always seems to work (as long as you keep an eye on how dry they look towards the end, some batches of beans absorb more liquid than others and you don’t want them to burn) and the result is always tasty. Anyway, I was doing a pineapple pork thing (recipe to come) that seemed Hawaiian so I was thinking about Hawaiian foods. Now I’ve never been to Hawaii but it seems like they love the Spam. The popularity (the existence even) of Spam musubi is enough to convince me of this but the fact that there is an event called the Spam Jam in Waikiki clinched it. I had to make a dish with Spam. But what? I didn’t want to serve meat with a side of meat so I had to incorporate the Spam into something to stretch it out a bit. Then I remembered my idea about making baked beans and thought if people can eat beanie weenies, then they can sure eat Spam & beans! And you know what? It was the surprise hit of the evening. The trick, I think, is to thoroughly fry the Spam (and a dry nonstick pan is fine for this, the fat in the Spam renders pretty quickly and you really don’t want to add more) until it is really crispy and drain, drain, drain it on paper towels so it doesn’t make the dish seem greasy. It added a salty-smoky flavor that is similar to what actual ham would have but the softer texture was really nice with the beans. It is a total fluke, novelty recipe but honestly, I am tempted to make it again.


  1. Hi,

    Just returned from my Hawaiian vacation, so this is great!!

    Thanks for sharing!


  2. I need this on my plate!