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Macaroni and Cheese My Way

January 7, 2010

You caught me. I used leftover holiday ham instead of Spam to make this dish.

People either recoil in terror or express intrigue when I tell them about one of my favorite comfort foods—Spam mac and cheese. Yes, you read right: Spam–aka luncheon meat–that processed and prepackaged meat product (I daren’t call it real meat!) in a can. Growing up in Asia, Spam was called luncheon meat and branded Ma Ling (which I recently discovered was banned in Singapore in 2007 for containing nitrofurans, an antibiotic for pigs. Whoa. Click here and here for two interesting articles).

Technically, the dish is called macaroni schoetel, a Dutch-inspired dish that has become a staple in the Indonesian culinary landscape. For some people, pronouncing “schoetel” (scott-tle) might be more of a challenge than the thought of eating Spam. If you’re a stickler for details, I admit it’s more of a macaroni casserole because unlike American mac and cheeses, it contains egg, and the minimal amount of cheese may offend the mac and cheese connoisseur. Regardless, it’s a hit with children (and some adults :)).

If you really don’t like Spam, alternatives abound in sausage, ham, chicken or corned beef.

Macaroni Schoetel

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I’ve had versions of this dish that are baked until the egg binds the macaroni together firmly so that it can be cut into slices and eaten as finger food—great for picnics or as a party appetizer. I like mine still mushy and served on a plate. Use 6 eggs and bake for an hour if you prefer firmer macaroni schoetel. Of course, the peas are my doing to make it seem “healthier.”

Time: 1 hour 15 minutes (30 minutes active)
Makes: 6 to 8 servings

Half pound shell or farfalle pasta (or any small pasta shape of your choice)
¼ cup (1/2 stick), plus 1 tablespoon butter
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup flour
2 1/2 cups milk
8 ounces luncheon meat, ham, or cooked chicken, cubed
1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
3 cups shredded Gouda or Edam cheese (about 8 ounces)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground white or black pepper
Freshly ground nutmeg
4 eggs, beaten

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Cook the pasta according to package directions with 1 tablespoon of butter. Drain and set aside.

In a large sauté pan, melt the remaining butter over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and stir and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Sprinkle in the flour and stir until pasty and light golden. Pour in the milk, and stir until the sauce thickens and starts to bubble, about 2 minutes.

Add the cooked pasta, luncheon meat, green peas and cheese, and mix well. Stir in the sugar, salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary, keeping in mind that the cheese is already salty.

Turn off the heat and stir in the eggs until well blended.

Transfer the pasta into a greased 2-½ quart dish. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes or until bubbling and golden brown on top.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. December 6, 2011 1:46 am

    Hi Pat, I had to laugh a bit when I saw this post, because I am so privledged to live within an hour or two of the Spam Museum, near Austin, Minnesota. They have a very serious cook-off competition every year. Here’s their site, you might get a kick out of it: http://www.spam.com/games/Museum/default.aspx

    • December 8, 2011 11:23 am

      Frugal Hausfrau,

      Do you think I should enter my spam mac and cheese recipe? :) I do love my spam but since Isaac was born I haven’t had a single bite of it, not even the low fat, sow sodium version. That’s an admittance that the stuff isn’t too good for you and I know it! Sigh …

  2. Agnes permalink
    January 13, 2011 5:01 pm

    Hi Pat, great blog, I just found your blog and now I am curious about your book :)
    Small comment, the correct spelling is “schotel”. It simply means a dish. After moved to Holland, I found out that there is no such thing as “macaroni schotel” here, so it is really an Indonesian invention (just like klappertaart). Well, there is a similar dish, but it is just called “macaroni met kaas”, which literally means mac-and-cheese.

  3. September 18, 2010 7:00 pm

    This recipie looks so delicious! Great looking photo too.

  4. lilstarfish permalink
    January 24, 2010 7:29 am

    That sounds so good to me right now. We use the chinese version of spam called the “King of Pork”. It’s pretty good and not too salty.

  5. January 21, 2010 10:33 am

    Hi Melody,
    Luncheon meat is my one food vice even though I know it’s so bad for me. I love cubed luncheon meat in macaroni soup. Yum!

  6. January 7, 2010 4:06 pm

    Oh dear does this ever remind me of what my Chinese mom makes. Sometimes, she would even make it in soup! Luncheon meat and peas, classic!

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