Tasso ham is a specialty of Cajun cuisine
. In this case, "ham
" is a misnomer, since tasso is not made from the leg of a pig, but the shoulder butt. This cut is typically fatty and has a great deal of flavor. The butt, which will weigh 7 to 8 pounds, is sliced across the grain into pieces about 3 in / 7.5 cm thick. These are then dredged in a salt cure, which usually includes nitrates
and sugar. The meat is left to cure very briefly, only three or four hours, then rinsed, rubbed with a spice mixture which is sure to contain cayenne
, and hot-smoked
until cooked through. Tasso is not typically eaten on its own, but may be found in dishes ranging from pasta to crab cakes, soup to gravy. Appropriate to its roots, tasso is most often found in recipes of southern or Cajun/Creole origin.