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Spam is on a roll at the Colorado State Fair

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Spam is enjoying unprecedented popularity in these trying economic times, which means that the 2009 Great American SPAM Championship, a recipe competition that includes a qualifier at the Colorado State Fair, could be the toughest contest on record.

Last year, a Colorado man, Ron Pearman, took the national prize with his Mini SPAM Nacho Burgers, a twist on sliders. This year's state contest will be Saturday, September 5, and the Colorado Department of Agriculture is accepting recipes (using up to ten ingredients, with SPAM chief among them, of course) and entries until September 3.

For inspiration, Pearman's winning recipe follows.

Mini SPAM Nacho Burgers

FOR SALSA:

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar 2 teaspoons honey 2 teaspoons minced canned chipotle chili in adobo sauce 3 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced 3 tablespoons diced red onion

FOR BURGERS:

1 (12-ounce) can SPAM® Classic 12 small squares of cheddar cheese 1 (12-ounce) package small Hawaiian sweet rolls, lightly toasted 1 cup prepared guacamole 6 red pickled sliced jalapeño peppers, cut in half

COOKING DIRECTIONS In medium bowl, stir together the salsa ingredients; set aside. Slice SPAM® Classic into six 1/2-inch thick slices. Cut each slice in half (you will have12 squares). Lightly grill or fry SPAM® squares until lightly browned on both sides. Place one slice of cheese on each piece of SPAM® Classic. Let cheese begin to melt. Place grilled SPAM® Classic on toasted roll bottoms. Top each burger with guacamole, tomato-chipotle salsa and a piece of jalapeño pepper. Makes 12 mini burgers.

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