This recipe is by far, one of my family’s most recent favorites. But I must warn you, it not for the healthy or faint-of-heart. If you were looking for an old-school, simple but delicious recipe that reminds you of simpler times where kids ran the streets of town and parents stood on the porch at dusk yelling for them to come home to eat, this recipe is for you. My husband asked me a few months ago to make Pizza-burgers. So I of course, referred to my mother for a recipe and she gave me a recipe that is what I believe to be the most common concoction found in recipe boxes and even on the internet. Once I prepared them, my husband immediately said, “These are not like the Pizza-burgers I grew up with.” Intrigued, I called my mother-in-law the next day and she started out by warning me that I needed to try them before judging the ingredients.
Before I introduce the ingredients to my Mother-in-law’s recipe, I feel like I need to present some information. One of the main ingredients in this concoction of meats and cheeses is quite possibly one of the most mocked products on the market; however, has an incredibly interesting history.
SPAM. Yes… I all but tossed the recipe at the first mention of the ingredient; but my mother-in-law assured me, it’s good. If you can get past the snapping of the can and dumping of a loaf of meat onto your cutting board, you will like the end result. Never having done either of these tasks with meat in the past, I was timid at the thought, to say the least. Nevertheless, I persevered and dove head first into my first Spam creation.
SPAM has quite an interesting history behind those tin cans. To begin, Dan Myers, the editor of The Daily Meal explains:
“Spam (or officially, SPAM), was introduced by the Hormel Foods Corporation in 1937. At the time, the fact that meat could be kept fresh for years by canning it was incredibly novel. It was rationed to troops during World War II, and while the Europeans the GI’s exposed to the canned meat largely didn’t want to have anything to do with it (except for the British), those on the Pacific front fell in love with it, and it’s still extremely popular there to this day.” (thedailymeal.com)
The article also sites astronomical figures of 44,000 cans of spam produced every HOUR. I had to further investigate this statistic as it was staggeringly large. Several websites concurred with these statistics. I also reviewed the nutritional information presented on SPAM discovering the nutritional information to be no different than many brands of deli meats like Ham or Bologna.
Spam is literally celebrated in Hawaii every year, particularly this year as the product will be turning 80! Myers goes on to describe how the publicity for SPAM grew after the War ended, citing: “After the war, Hormel launched a massive publicity campaign for the canned ham, recruiting a group of former servicewomen, whom they dubbed the ‘Hormel Girls,’ to tour the country promoting the product. By 1948 the group had swelled to 60 women with a 16-piece orchestra, and they were even given a radio show which aired until the group disbanded in 1953.” (thedailymeal.com)
Intrigued by the history, I then started looking through the facts on the product located on SPAM’s home site:
- There are 15 varieties of SPAM
- Products are sold in 44 different countries
- Over 8 BILLION cans have been sold to date
- The canjo is a banjo made using a SPAM can (no joke… this is a REAL thing!)
- Hawaii eats 7 million cans of SPAM every year (Think… 50 First Dates with Adam Sandler )
- In Southeast Asia, SPAM is given as a luxury gift
- There is an entire Museum dedicated to the SPAM brand in Austin, MN.
- One SPAM brand plant produces 350 cans a minute.
The list goes on, and being one who is intrigued by weird statistics, I could go on for hours! Check out the SPAM home page for more fun facts.
Returning back to Debbie’s Pizza-burgers, I made my first batch a few months ago. I was amazed at how different hers were than the normal ones I was used to. I personally loved the variation on flavor!
To start off, brown one pound of meat in a pan. I add a little onion salt and garlic powder. We use a lot of ground venison so those seasonings are used every time a recipe starts with a ground chuck or ground venison. (If you were looking for healthy, I presume you could use a ground turkey; however, I have not done that yet.) My Mother-in-law also adds oregano. I add some during the meat browning and when adding the sauce later.
This next step is the one that almost did me in: Grate one SPAM loaf and add it into the browned meat. Repeat this step grating in the block of Longhorn cheese. (On one particular occasion, I was unable to find this specific cheese, so I did some last minute research and discovered Colby cheese is almost identical in make and style It works as a good substitute. There was no flavor difference!)
Continue to cook on low heat until the cheese begins to melt, occasionally stirring the two meats and cheese until combined.
Next, add in enough Ragu traditional marinara sauce (I have also subbed in my favorite sauce on occasion when forgetting to get this specific brand, and noticed very little change in flavor) to moisten the mixture, (It took me about half of the jar, but use your best judgement) and season with a little more Oregano. Stir to combine.
Now, to make the perfect GLUTEN FREE Pizza-burger, you need a good quality bun to support the hearty topping. We love Udi’s brand products and I am fortunate enough to have two local stores stocking the hamburger buns, hot dog buns, and loaves of bread in the gluten free freezer section. These items are available on Amazon in case options.
Our family is a 50/50 split, so preparation for meals involving bread products requires two separate baking sheets, one gluten free and one for regular products. If you are preparing both types of pizza-burgers, be cautious and always prepare the gluten-free buns first to prevent cross-contamination with a spoon being re-dipped into the meat mixture.
Once you have prepared your pizza-burgers, place the sheet pans into an oven heated to 425 degrees for 10 minutes. You can do a lower temperature if you prefer, we just seem to always have tater tots with this meal and they require the higher heat.
Once the timer goes off, pull those delicious bad boys out of the oven and let them sit a minute or two before serving. Trust me when I tell you, the flavor behind these burgers is like no other Pizza-burger you’ve had before. Debbie, we are calling this a winner!
So, when you are looking for a quick dinner, or a twist on an old classic, pull this recipe out and surprise your family with a recipe full of ingredients that have clearly stood the test of time.
An old classic with a flavorful twist that is perfect as a nostalgic recipe reminiscent of childhood.
– 1 pound ground beef
– 1 can SPAM classic or lite
– 1 block Longhorn cheese
– 1 1/2 tsp of Oregano
– 1 jar Ragu traditional marinara (only using half)
– 1 package hamburger buns
1. Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees. In a large skillet, brown the ground beef and season with onion salt and garlic powder if desired.
2. While the meat is browning, grate one container of SPAM or SPAM lite and 1 block of Longhorn cheese.
3. Once the meat is brown, drain the excess liquid and add the grated meat and cheese. Stir to combine.
4. Add in approximately half the jar of Ragu traditional marinara, or just until meat mixture is moistened.
5. Season with Oregano
6. Once all of the ingredients have been mixed thoroughly, and cheese has melted, remove from heat.
7. Prepare hamburger buns on baking sheets. Spoon on to prepared hamburger buns. Mixture should cover approximately 8-12 Hamburger bun halves
8. Place baking sheets in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.