Tasso is probably the least known Cajun cooking secret. Why, because people have embraced andouille. I am a great example. Both andouille and tasso are seasoning meats. Tasso is used for flavoring veggies mostly. I never saw it in a dish with another meat, like a chicken and tasso gumbo, nope. Tasso jambalaya, nope.
Tasso is more a Cajun pickled pork. Thats what its used for. Of course this is only my humble opinion.
I have been trying for a long time to figure out how to get that taste I remembered as a child. And tasso was a rarity, you didn't see tasso in a grocery store back then. You had to be a friend of a friend or somebody really favored or in good graces to get tasso! I never understood why, it was nothing more than something to use like bacon in mustard greens, green beans, cabbage, corn, peas, etc etc etc....
I was in the 5th grade first time I ever saw any and it was the first time I knew of its existence.
The neighbor who was coonass from the tip of her toe to the top of her head had gone home to Bunkie La to visit and came back bearing gifts. One if which was tasso.. Mom opened up a piece of meat which was wrapped in the Sunday Comics. LOL It was ripe, green, seriously had green growing on it. Mom thinking it was bad tossed it and swore me to secrecy not wanting to hurt Ms. AnnaLee's feelings.
I played ball with her sons, and she had a passle of daughters I learned were fun too later. Mom would always send me over to their house anytime she could, so I could learn what and how to eat the local fair. Seriously think about a West Texas born woman, that had moved to the Kansas prairie, then on to NC. now in South Louisiana. Crawfish, crabs, oysters, and all the cajun dishes. LOL I'd come home and explain what we had and how to eat it. LOL The next week or two, we'd go to a resturant and order some and it was hands on training duty.
But as always I babble..... Lets talk tasso.
Cured or not?? I have seen both ways. Smoked or not, again no clear winner. Flavors brined? Rubbed?
I thought back to the green meat my Mom threw out. You know that sounds like a Carolina Ham, doesn't it? Those Carolina hams are sugar cured. Ah ha! Cured it is. I am guessing a dry cure with some #2 cure.
Here we have some pretty pork chops which have been brine cured. Getting flavors in the meat was the reason for the brine cure, its tender, definately a heavy cured taste.
Note you can see that cured look to the chops although not bright red. Two weeks in a brined cure (Its smells good enough to just eat raw).
Tasso is rubbed very heavily with strong spices. So heavy it reminded me of my cajun sausage spice. Hey, none of my other experiments worked so lets give it a try. After a day drying in the reefer, some fan blowing it was as dry as was gonna happen. It was still slightly wet from the brine. I rub in sausage spice, I really rubbed it in with a double dose. Back in the reefer over night.
Today, I renewed the rub.
Prepare the smoker, I decided to smoke it. Most of what is store bought these days for tasso uses 'liquid smoke' Ewwww. But a country cured or green Carolina ham gets smoked, so why not? Preparing the smoke of pecan and corn cob.
I do love the new expandable oval pellet smoker!
And into to smoker. And the first hour door cracked to dewater.
Just like on Gilligan's Island, it was a three hour tour ( I was inside making jelly)
And it comes out, smelling great, how could it not?
This is the closet thing I have made to real tasso. I have tried 4 or 5 times that was ok, but it wasn't just right if ya know what I mean.
The spice although hot doesn't remove the skin from the tongue but you get thirsty quick and sweating will follow, it is damn spicy!
I am gonna give this a A, but not an A+. Its close, really close. The chop is cured, spicy, tender, and even juicy.... I know it seems impossible.
I wonder if it being a nice pork chop has anything to do with it. See that green piece of meat my Mom threw out not knowing what she had, well it was a center cut pork chop also. Not your normal 'cut' for tasso.
I will continue to refine, but I am considering it a success.
Thanks for listening to me ramble. Its taken a few attempts to get where I am happy. But that is good tasso.
ROFLMAO someday I'll relate the story of a contractors gift to my Pop of a full bushel of softshell crabs which he let rot for lack of knowledge...
Edited by Foamheart - 4/19/16 at 7:51pm