What is Spamghetti?
Eating Spamghetti for the first time changed my life in the outdoors, and our Spamghetti Recipe can do the same for you.
Let me preface this by saying that I was raised Italian-American and if my grandmother knew that I was putting Spam into my tomato sauce, she would roll over in her grave.
That being said, Spamghetti is actually delicious, affordable, and among the most satiating dishes you can have in the outdoors.
Spamghetti primarily consists of Spaghetti and Spam (hence the name), typically served in a rich tomato sauce; it’s the perfect meal after a long day of hiking in the backcountry. Hunger is the best sauce – not marinara.
A picture of Spamghetti dinner during the last night of our spring 2020 bear hunt.
Total Cost Of This Meal:
- The total cost of a Spamghetti dinner hovers somewhere around $4-$6, depending largely on the price of the sauce and the addition of optional ingredients.
- The following recipe will yield roughly two large servings.
- Adding more ingredients will increase the cost and feed more people; plan accordingly.
- Cooking is an art, and costs are based on science. All ingredients and amounts thereof should be played with.
- Moreover, being creative with food is never more important – or easier – than when the threat of hunger is real.
- It’s important to note that knowing how to cook with what you have can not only keep you under budget, it can also help to boost morale and better nourish the body.
Backcountry Spamghetti Recipe
- Fuel Canister
- Metal Pot
- 1 can Spam Any ol’ Spam will do, although we recommend the cheese, jalapeno, black pepper, or bacon varieties.
- 1 Jar Pasta Sauce A jar of sauce should cost under $2. Buy more if you like a lot of sauce. We recommend the Italian Sausage & Garlic variety from Prego, as it tastes almost authentic and perfectly compliments the mixture of Spam & Spaghetti.
- 1 lb Spaghetti Not limited to simply Spaghetti, 1 lb of your favorite pasta variety will do. We recommend keeping the pasta on the al dente side – which means cooked to be firm to the bite. Pro Tip: Angel Hair Pasta (“thin-looking Spaghetti”), also known as “Capellini” cooks a few minutes faster than any variety of pasta known to man.
- 3 splashes Olive Oil Oil is important because it will make the sauteeing process easier and add an additional level of flavor to your Spamghetti.
- 1 (optional) onion
- 4 (optional) cloves of garlic These last two ingredients shouldn’t be optional at all, as they are an integral part of the dish flavor profile. That being said, in the interest of simplicity we are marking them as optional. Also, if you have an allergy or aversion to these items, it's time to build an immunity or get over it – as there are no garlic haters allowed on the Wild West Trail. Period.
- Dice Spam with your knife and saute in a pan or pot coated with olive oil.
- If you are using fresh chopped onions and garlic, throw them in now as well. Pro Tip: Be sure to crush the garlic cloves first, as it makes them easier to peel. Be sure not to burn the garlic as it cooks relatively fast.
- Throw the sauce in the same pot or pan and let all those ingredients simmer.
- Bring a pot of water to boil. Throw the pasta in and cook to desired consistency, though we recommend going al dente (firm to the bite).
- When pasta is firm to the bite, add it to the Spam sauce. Mix and enjoy!
For a quicker, cleaner cooking solution, consider making the Spamghetti all in one pot*.
*One Pot SpamghettiThe beauty of cooking Spamghetti in only one pot is it simplifies both the cooking and cleanup processes of this classic dish. This is especially important when cooking in the backcountry. Whether you are car camping or thru hiking with a pot and stove, using a single pot saves precious time and energy when you need it most. While this article is primarily focused on adding Spam to this classic dish, the principles work just as well without Hawaiian Steak.
- If cooking in one pot, throw 2-3 cups of water (or beef broth) in with the sauce so that the pasta has enough liquid to soak up.
- Put the pasta into the sauce and Spam mixture and cook until pasta is al dente.
- It’s also worth noting that you won’t have as much control over the consistency of the pasta noodles when cooking everything in one pot, though this is Spamghetti and you’re hungry – so it’ll probably be fine.
Necessity Hunger Is The Mother Of Invention
I’ll never forget the first time I tried Spam & Spaghetti in the same dish, and I doubt you will either. For my part, we had been bear hunting for almost a full week with no luck. The nights were cold, and the ground was still frozen – but we had to persist.
At this time, it was mid April in Idaho but Father Winter didn’t get the memo that the seasons had changed. Each day consisted of miles of hard hiking in the hills around Idaho City, and each night consisted of us shivering ourselves in and out of sleep. A down sleeping bag only gets you so far when Mother Earth’s frozen bosoms are sucking the warmth out from under you.
We should have known better.
The thing about the cold is, it makes you hungry. Your body is burning more calories in a desperate attempt at making heat. While Joel was focused on getting bear, I kept thinking about what food I wanted to eat next.
My mind was running through the ingredients that we brought with us in a futile attempt at distracting myself from the steep inclines and hard miles that lay ahead.
I began fantasizing about combinations of ingredients I never would have considered under normal circumstances.
The First Time I Tasted Spamghetti
As meal time approached, my appetite became fixed on a nice Spaghetti dinner. I looked at Joel and asked “Hey, do you think it would taste good if we added some Spam?” He looked at me incredulously, “You’ve never had Spamghetti?!”.
We got to work immediately; dicing onions and chopping garlic as we waited for the pan to heat up. We opened the can of Spam, and plopped it onto the cutting board. After cutting it into fine cubes, we tossed it into the searing hot pan after coating it with olive oil – along with the chopped onions and garlic.
After that, we added the pasta sauce on top of the lightly browned Spam.
With the sauce in the pan, we let it simmer as the pasta boiled its way to a perfect al dente consistency.
It’s also worth mentioning that we boiled our pasta in pristine mountain spring water — water which we sourced earlier in the day from a hidden enclave, tucked deep in the high alpine terrain.
When the time came, we strained the pasta and added it into the simmering Spam sauce.
Finally, it was time to eat! I dug in. And boy, what a treat.
“Hunger Is The Best Sauce – Not Marinara.”
In the days since, I’ve tried to understand why the Spamghetti tasted so good. Maybe it was the increased hunger from the hard miles or the biting cold. Maybe it had something to do with not showering for a week.
These are hard questions.
What I do know is that the Spamghetti that we tasted that fateful night was beyond delicious. The Spam tasted like real meatballs. The sauce tasted old-world. The pasta was perfect.
However, nothing – and I mean nothing – has come as close to satisfying my hunger cravings as that one time last week when I ate Spamghetti in the vast wilderness of Idaho.
“Fact: Teddy Roosevelt loved eating Spamghetti in the White House.” — CNN
Any comments or questions on the above recipe? Do you have any insights into Spamghetti that you would like to share? Drop us a line in the comments below.