Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tasso Ham Recipe.

This salty and spicy pork treat has its roots in Creole cuisine.  Creole cuisine is really a style of cooking that blends  many cultures flavors together.  Including French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Greek, Asian, as well as the taste of the South.  No wonder why there is so much going on with this meat.  Tasso Ham is not meant to be eaten on its own, it is more of an ingredient.  As well it is a meat poser, being that it is not even a ham at all.  If you look back to my previous post on Primals, you will see that the ham comes from the rear leg of the pig, when tasso is made with the shoulder, or butt, which is on the front of the animal.  Here is a boned out shoulder.
I was proud of this one.  I have been practicing my butchery skills a lot recently and was able to get this blade out in a couple minutes and was able to maintain the integrity of the shoulder.  Not to shabby I must say!!

I broke the shoulder down to six steaks for the Tasso and the rest was trimmed and cleaned up for some sausages.  I used about 5 pounds for the Tasso. This is a three step process. You have the initial spicing and cure, Second spicing and dry, then hot smoking. See recipe below for the initial cure.
  • 2250g Pork Shoulder or Butt,
  • 450g Basic Dry Cure (See past post for directions)
  • 4g Cayenne pepper ground
  • 2g Fresh thyme, leaves only, stems removed
  • 4g Crushed Black Pepper
  • 5g Crushed garlic(I use a micro plane)
Cut decent sized steaks.  Remember the smaller they are the least amount of time it will take to cure and smoke them.  These are about a pound a piece with the smaller piece being a little extra.  Get all ingredients together.
Combine all of the dry ingredients, including the garlic.  Rub all over the shoulder steaks.  Place a small layer of the dry rub into the bottom of a large non reactive container,(can also use large zip lock bags).  Add meat to container and put the rest of the rub over the top.  Make sure all pieces are evenly covered.  Wrap in clear film and cure for 12 hours.  After they have cured you will notice a lot of liquid in the container, this is the moisture that has been pulled out by the cure mixture.  The color of the meat will have deepened and gotten much firmer.  Rinse all of the cure off of the meat and pat the meat dry with paper towels.  Let rest until the surface is dry to the touch.  While your meat is resting make your secondary spice rub.
Mix this completely and cover you pork with the mixture.  Don't breath through your nose while you are mixing this, trust me.  I was sneezing like crazy.  This mixture shows you why this meat is not eaten on its own.  It is damn spicy, delicious, but spicy.

Notice how dry the meat looks.  This is crucial for the next step, hot smoking.  If your meat is wet, the smoke flavor will not adhere well, and you will be left with a bitter, burnt taste to your tasso.  I used a mixture of Ozark hickory and alder wood in my electric smoker.  These smoked at 175 degrees F, until they reached an internal temp of 150 degrees F.  About two and a half hours.

This picture did not come out very well, but you can see the smokey bark on the outside of the meat.  There is a well defined smoke ring, and the meat is bright and pink.  I sliced off a couple pieces, I could not resist and popped them in my mouth straight away.  The initial taste is amazing, bright, savory, smokey then the peppers hit you.  Not over powering, but the white pepper and the cayenne come through.  The nice part is that the finish you get is the Cinnamon and allspice.  Don't get me wrong I am not going to be eating this straight, but it is great.  This is really going to be good in some gravy, and some Jambalaya.

I have been a meat making machine as of late.  Have been making lots of fresh sausages, trying my hand at pickling some vegetables.  And creating more salumis.  This hobby is really turning into an obsession for me.  I am working with some friends, to get my little company I am starting, the Burning River Meat company off the ground.  Will be posting a lot soon, I have about ten things just waiting to make it to the blog.  Remember, Source local and Love your Meat!!



  1. Camera or Cell Phone; you need to change the white balance or use; either, a post image editing software or cell phone image adjustment app.

  2. Hi Aaron,

    I hope you are monitoring comments two years later!

    Your home-made tasso recipe is just what I was looking for as a newbie to smoking meats. However, you don't have your secondary spice recipe posted! Can you add that?


    - Paul