Polynesian Bake with Green Beans

As I warned, it’s SPAM week here at I Eat Food. Tonight’s recipe is another direct from the SPAM® website, and like the Spam Musubi, completely vegan other than the SPAM. It’s the exotic-sounding Polynesian Bake!

Polynesian Bake

1/2 – 2/3 recipe vegan Spam
1 can sliced pineapple
1/4 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup apricot preserves
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice up your vegan Spam. I cut seven slices, because that’s what fit into my baking dish, but it happens to be how many the original recipe calls for so it’s even more authentic.

The original recipe calls for a fresh pineapple, which you cut lengthwise and then bake the “loaf” right in the rind. Although I was really tempted to do this for the cute factor, and although I love pineapple and rarely use canned anything when I could use fresh, canned pineapple is much easier and actually the perfect size for the vegan Spam. For a baking dish, I used a 1 1/2 pint Pyrex refrigerator dish. Alternating slices of Spam and pineapple, assemble a “loaf” in a suitably-sized baking dish.

Juice your lemon. One medium lemon should provide you just about exactly the 1/4 cup juice you need.

Combine the lemon juice, apricot preserves, mustard, and black pepper in a small bowl.

Whisk together.

Pour the sauce over the “loaf”.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, basting half-way through.

Remove from oven and serve.

I accompanied the Polynesian Bake with green beans. I googled “Polynesian green bean recipe” wondering if I’d find anything good to go with the Spam and found this recipe alleging to be from Disney. I didn’t photograph the whole process because I wasn’t intending to post it, but they went so well with the Spam dish, I figure I might as well.

Polynesian Green Beans

1 lb green beans, trimmed
1/2 red onion or 3 shallots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 Tbsp dark soy sauce (or 2 Tbsp regular soy sauce + 2 Tbsp sugar) (I don’t quite get why the original recipe calls for low-sodium soy sauce AND additional salt…)
freshly-ground black pepper to taste
2 Tbsp vegan “bacon” bits

Blanch the green beans in boiling water for 1 minute, then drain. Heat a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat, add a bit of oil and bring to temperature, then add onion or shallots and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and fry for another minute. Add the green beans and fry for 10 minutes. I deglazed the wok with a bit of pineapple juice instead of water or wine because I’m crazy like that. Also, the juice from my pineapple was sitting nearby and was handy.

Add the soy sauce and pepper and stir-fry for two minutes, allowing it to glaze the green beans. Add the “bacon” bits and stir-fry for one minute.


Verdict? I much preferred the texture of the vegan Spam when it was fried. Baked it was a little bit like a sort of Spammy polenta, if you can imagine that. It wasn’t bad and it grew on me as the meal progressed, but I think next time I’ll lightly fry the Spam slices, then top with the pineapple and sauce and broil for a couple of minutes. Ooh, or maybe grill it. I would like to revisit this recipe because the sauce was good and I have always loved pineapple and hammy things. I’m not sure of Mark’s opinion because he is downstairs obsessively watching Hell Boy 2, but when I went down there to collect Brachtune from his lap in order to pill and feed her, I noticed his plate had been cleaned, so he must have liked it to some degree!

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Smoked Seitan Butt and Green Beans

Pork is somewhat of a mystery meat to me. In fact, until as recently as last week, I went around proclaiming I’ve never eaten pork in my life. I wasn’t raised vegetarian, or Jewish, or Muslim, we simply didn’t eat a wide variety of meats when I was growing up. All I really remember ever eating is ground beef, chicken, fish sticks, hot dogs, and Steak-Ums. My favorite was ham, but I only got that at my grandmother’s. Now, I know pork comes from pigs and ham comes from pigs, but still I don’t know if ham is a subset of pork or vice versa or what, and frankly, I don’t care to know. All I knew is my family at no time ever served me anything and called it “pork”, and as I became vegetarian at 15, I figured I’d never eaten it.

But then last weekend my mother told me that she and my aunt had made Smoked Butt and Green Beans, a family recipe she made from time to time when I was growing up, for my dad Saturday night, and it turns out that the “butt” is actually “pork butt”. So I guess I have eaten pork. I can remember laughing at the name of the meal when I was a kid and asking why it was called “butt” and my parents telling me it was the butt of the pig and me not believing them. Talk about avoiding the issue of where your food comes from! I thought someone was just being silly when they named the meal. I’ve always been an animal lover and I’m not sure I would have wanted to eat it if I had really thought it was an animal’s butt, but on the other hand, I was far from being a picky eater and loved meat as much as any other food until I started thinking about things more thoroughly. My mom recently transcribed parts of my baby book and apparently at even at three months, baby Renae ate “everything”.

Anyway, my mom included the recipe for Smoked Butt And Green Beans in her email with the note, “I guess you can’t really veganize it.” A-ha! Challenge alert! At first I wasn’t too interested in trying to veganize it because it’s so simple that much of the flavor must come from the “butt” and not only do I not care to eat stuff that tastes like meat, but I honestly haven’t the faintest idea what smoked butt or any type of pork tastes like. I do remember eating it, but no particular memory of the taste comes to mind. But then I found myself with some leftover seitan and some green beans for which I had no other plans, and I know that Smark likes smoky flavors, so I started thinking maybe I would veganize that recipe after all.

The important thing here, I think, is not to think you’re really eating pork or anything that tastes remotely like pork. I have no idea what pork tastes like, so all I tried to do was give it a smoky edge, even though my mom says smoked butt doesn’t taste that smoky to her and if it did, she wouldn’t like it. Other than that, the name, “Smoked Butt” is appropriate because the leftover chunk of seitan I had really did look like the butt of some seitan!

The original recipe, which my mother got from her mother, is thus:

1 peck green beans
5 lbs. potatoes (cut in pieces)
1 (2 lb.) smoked pork butt (cut in 1/4s)
1 onion
salt & pepper
2 tsp. sugar per lb. green beans

Put green beans and butt in large pot with onion, salt, pepper, and sugar. Cook on slow boil for about 4 hours. Add potatoes, bring to a boil again; and then cook on a slow boil for another 1/2 hours or until potatoes are done.

Pretty simple, eh? Well, enough blabbing from me: on with the veganizing! Choose your seitan wisely for this one. Because it’s such a simple recipe, pick a flavorful rather than bland seitan. Vegan Dad’s Veggie Lunch Meat or Everyday Dish’s Corned Beef would be good, and Bryanna’s Soy and Seitan “Ham” (about 2/3 of the way down the page) is a logical choice. Who cares if what you choose tastes like or is supposed to taste like pork though? Just pick something you like the taste of.

Here’s what I did:

8 cups vegan “chicken” broth
6 drops stevia or 2 tsp sugar
1-2 tsp liquid smoke
3 Tbsp vegan “bacon bits”
1 pound green beans, trimmed and either chopped or frenched (I frenched them because I’m fancy, and also I thought they’d cook faster that way…and because I have a nifty bean slicer that I like to give an occasional workout)
1 pound seitan, sliced somewhat thickly
1 pound potatoes, chopped (or not, if you use peewees like I did)
1 onion, sliced
salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste

Put the broth into a large pot or Dutch oven and begin heating. Meanwhile, fry the seitan slices in a bit of oil.

Drain on a paper towel and when cool enough to touch, rip up into bite-sized pieces.

Trim the green beans …

… and either french-cut them or chop them into 2″ pieces:

(my bean slicer is fun)

Add the bacon bits, liquid smoke, stevia or sugar, seitan, green beans, onions, salt, and pepper to the broth and bring to a boil.

Cover and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer for half an hour. Add the potatoes and continue to simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are done.

To serve, remove solid pieces with a slotted spoon.

I think I probably could have gotten away with throwing everything including the potatoes into the pot and just cooking for half an hour, maybe 45 minutes if I had chopped instead of frenched the green beans. I don’t know why the green beans cook for four whole hours in the original recipe. I also could have doubled the green beans; they were my favorite part. (Mark’s favorite part was the seitan.) I have to say that I wasn’t expecting much from this recipe. I mostly did it just for kicks, because my mother said I probably couldn’t, and figuring that even if it was turned out really boring, we could just put hot sauce on it: everything is good with hot sauce on it. It turned out pretty well, though. Mark really liked it and ate two bowls-full, then drank the leftover liquid out of his bowl. It’s a great way to use up leftover seitan and I’d make it again. I might add baby carrots next time; I bet that would be a good addition.

By the way, I googled “what does pork taste like?” as a research attempt before starting this meal and learned that it apparently tastes like human. Um, gross?

At any rate, smoked seitan butt is very metal!

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