Duck fat, brie cheese and SPAM were the perfect combination to win a Greenwood woman first prize at the Indiana State Fair.
Jennifer Dickie won first place in the Great American SPAM Championship with her French cuisine-inspired creation.
The national competition is conducted at state fairs across the country. Just fewer than 20 entered the contest at this year’s state fair.
Dickie was inspired to enter the competition after a friend performed in a recent Indianapolis theater production of “SPAMALOT.”
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 to 3 tablespoons duck fat (can find at specialty stores)
3 cloves roasted garlic
Herbs to taste (mixture of sage, thyme, rosemary, basil, parsley and lavender)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 (12 ounce) can SPAM Classic, sliced
2 ounces Brie cheese
1 tablespoon cream
1/4 teaspoon dried mustard
1/8 teaspoon herbs (mixture of sage, thyme, rosemary, basil, parsley and lavender)
1 French baguette
1 granny smith apple, finely sliced
Slice onions and sauté them in duck fat in a cast iron skillet. Add roasted garlic, herbs and salt and pepper. Sauté together until soft and golden in color. Set aside.
Slice SPAM to desired thickness. Place SPAM slices in hot duck fat in a cast iron skillet. Brown on each side until crisp on the outside. Remove slices onto paper towels to drain.
In a small saucepan, melt 2 ounces of brie cheese and 1 tablespoon of cream. Add 1/4 teaspoon dried mustard and herbs.
Slice baguette lengthwise. Open and spread on softened butter. Toast or grill bread.
To assemble sandwich, spread both sides of bread with fig jam. Lay slices of SPAM on top. Pour cheese sauce over SPAM. Add onions and garlic on top. Add finely sliced granny smith apples. Cover with top bread. Slice into sections.
Source: Great American SPAM Championship winner Jennifer Dickie’s SPAMALOT Sandwich
“My friend was Lancelot and (the play) just stayed in my mind. When I saw the SPAM contest, I thought, ‘OK, I gotta do something with that,’” she said.
A fan of French cuisine, Dickie was inspired to create her own recipe after eating a sandwich with brie, apples and fig jam — key ingredients in her own culinary creation.
Because of the uniqueness of the contest, and the unusual ingredient, she just had to enter to see if she could meld the French and American tastes.
Dickie also scored points with the judges for her presentation, which included an old-fashioned jug filled with purple Kool Aid and parchment paper-wrapped sandwiches — for a rustic effect.
She competed with her mother in cooking contests for many years starting as a teenager. She has her mother’s ribbons that date back to 1950, when her mom was entering a variety of baked goods into the contests.
Dickie has won honors for her caramels and other goodies, including peanut brittle, toffee, cookies, yeast breads and cakes.
“Normally, it is baking,” she said. “That’s why I had to try something different.”
She’s gotten into the contests again in recent years after a friend encouraged her to share her baked goods.
Dickie’s win in the competition got her an apron and a rosette, as well as $150 in prizes. She’s now a part of the national contest that will be judged early next year.
For those who’d like to try the recipe, she said it’s not necessary to have all the ingredients. Substitutions can be made.
“I will say that most people don’t have duck fat in their refrigerator, but it can be substituted with olive oil and butter for flavor,” she said.