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SPAM RECIPE WITH TWIST : WOMAN USES SNAIL SHELLS TO WIN CONTEST.

Byline: Alicia Doyle Daily News Staff Writer

Connoisseurs relish its rare texture and taste. Housewives are drawn to its versatility. And many kids have at least once eaten a sandwich stuffed with the pink, salty meat.

But even the most cultured Spam eater might flinch at the recipe that won a first-place blue ribbon over the weekend at the Ventura County Fair.

``Spam Scargot,'' created by Maria Hagman of Thousand Oaks, prevailed during Saturday's contest for its originality, taste and appearance.

``Every recipe had already been done,'' said Hagman, 55, who has also created Spam dishes of hash browns, quiche and stir fry. ``I had to come up with something different.''

So Hagman came up with a recipe that calls for stuffing snail shells with a Spam mixture of butter, shallots and bread crumbs. The creamy dough is then shaped into tiny balls and stuffed in the shells, which are baked until the mix starts sizzling.

Hagman proudly displayed the shelled Spam before the judges during Saturday's competition, where she also had puff pastries filled with her special dough for the more timid tasters.

The idea actually started out as a joke, when Hagman told her daughter Theresa that she wanted to enter the contest. Because many of Hagman's relatives are French and live in Paris, Theresa joked that the best recipe would be the one that would appeal to her finicky cousins.

``They take their food so seriously,'' said Maria Hagman, a Spam eater for 37 years. ``They would be horrified if they knew I put Spam in escargot shells.''

Contest coordinators agreed that Hagman's recipe was one of the most original they had seen since the contest was first held five years ago.

While past award-winning recipes have included Spam ice cream, Spam truffles and Spam pie, few have compared to Hagman's appetizerlike creation with gourmet appeal, said Amy Stoller, Spam contest coordinator.

``Maria's is a great recipe,'' Stoller said. ``We love to see recipes like that.''

This year, the Spam recipe competition will take place at 77 fairs nationwide, Stoller said.

Hagman's creation earned a first-place prize of $100 and a Spam apron. Her recipe also will be entered in the national Best Spam Recipe contest in Minneapolis, where Hormel Foods - Spam's maker - is headquartered.

The winner of the national contest will receive a $2,500 shopping spree at Mall of America in Minneapolis, plus two round-trip air flights and two nights of accommodations in Minneapolis.

Hormel Foods, the makers of Spam, launched the recipe competition in 1991 to find out how people were using the canned pork and ham luncheon meat, Stoller said.

More than 5 billion cans have been produced since 1937, according to Hormel Foods officials. In America, roughly 3.8 cans of Spam are consumed every second each day - 228 cans per minute, 13,680 cans an hour.

``It's been around so long, it's almost like an American tradition,'' Stoller said. ``Everyone knows what Spam is. Like Maria, everyone has their own Spam story.''

SPAM SCARGOT

Ingredients:

12-ounce can of Spam

1/2 pound Land O' Lakes butter

2 tablespoons chopped shallots

2 tablespoons chopped green onions

1 teaspoon garlic salt

5-6 tablespoons chopped parsley

1/2 cup bread crumbs

pastry dough

6 super clean escargot shells

Instructions:

Cut Spam into cubes or shape into balls with a melon spoon and lightly brown with some onions in butter.

Cream together softened butter, shallots, green onions, garlic and parsley into a mixture.

Prepare escargot shells in an escargot pan and prepare rounds of pastry dough for the timid.

Put some of the creamed butter-shallot mixture in each shell and round. Put a Spam ball or cube in each shell and on each round. Top with the remaining butter-shallot mixture. Top with bread crumbs. Close pastry circles and place them on cookie sheets.

Bake escargot and pastry pockets in a 450-degree oven until butter mixture sizzles or for 10 to 20 minutes, whichever comes first.

Serve. Bon appetit.

CAPTION(S):

Box, Photo

Photo: (color) Maria Hagman of Thousand Oaks won a fir st-place blue ribbon at the Ventura County Fair for her ``Spam Scargot'' creation.

Gene Blevins/Special to the Daily News

Box: SPAM SCARGOT (see text)
COPYRIGHT 1996 Daily News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Recipe
Date:Aug 20, 1996
Words:702
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