Tasso (TAH-so) is a smoked seasoning meat used to flavor dishes like Gumbo, Jambalaya, and Red Beans & Rice. Tasso used to be made from the trim after an Acadian Hog Boucherie, thin strips, heavily seasoned, dried, then smoked for hours. These days however, most of the Tasso that is available is a little more fancy, more of a ham than the style of the old days, mine is somewhere in between. I always find it amazing how ingredients and recipes, that basically came from scrap and the poorest times evolve into Gourmet, I love it. Tasso will keep in the freezer and is pretty easy to make, but you have to do a little planning.
A few Tips:
After seasoning it, I recommend keeping it in the fridge, at least 3 days to let it cure, look at how nice and pink the center is.
Take it easy on the Cayenne when making your seasoning blend, start off with a small amount, then add to your taste, the amount here is moderate. It should have some heat, but I don’t like losing control of the heat in a dish I’m cooking because my Tasso was too hot, so I cut it back a little, for the same reason that you don’t salt stocks.
Here is my recipe for Tasso. I used a Boneless Pork Roast cut into about 4-5 inch long, 1/2 to 1 inch thick slices. This is seasoning for about 5 lbs of pork:
Homemade Tasso Recipe
5 lbs Pork cut as described above
3 Tbsp Kosher Salt
2 Tsp Cayenne or To Taste (see above)
4 Tbsp Paprika
2 Tbsp Fresh Garlic, minced
2 Tbsp Coarsely Ground Black Pepper
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 Tbsp White Pepper
1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
Mix the seasoning together well. Rub the seasoning into the meat, you want a lot on there, call it 1/8 inch, use it all. Place on a plate or tray, cover and refrigerate 3 days.
Before smoking put the Tasso on an elevated rack so that air can circulate around it, then put a fan on it for about 2 hours to dry it out. I also don’t use a water pan when smoking Tasso, this is something that I actually want to dry out during the smoking process.
I hot smoked this batch in an inexpensive upright barrel smoker using charcoal as the heat source (heated with a chimney starter, no lighter fluid or matchlight coals please.) I used Pecan chips that were soaked in water for 1 hour for the smoke.
I smoked this a total of about 4 hours, the first 2 hours at about 150-160 degrees F. The second two hours at 180-190 degrees F.
The object is to get as much smoke into the meat, before cooking it all the way through. I brought the internal temperature of the meat to 150 degrees F in the last 2 hours of smoking.
When finished I again put the Tasso in front of a fan for about 1 hour. Refrigerate. When completely cold portion and store the Tasso in vacuum sealed packages. Freeze.
Makes 5 lbs of Tasso
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More on Tasso:
Check out these Pics at Egullet of Wayne Jacob’s beautiful Tasso and Andouille, made the old way in LaPlace, Louisiana.