Sunday, January 5, 2014

Tasso for the holidays

Normally the Christmas break gives me the chance to make several batches of sausage.  I even planned on doing so this year.  But, we all know about the best laid plans of mice, men and chefs.  All I managed to get done this year was a batch of Tasso, which I had also planned on.  None the less, I will not complain.  The 5 pounds of Tasso will make for some good eating.

Tasso is used primarily as a seasoning meat, much like you would use bacon in a pot of beans.  I must admit that I also like to eat it as is as a snack.  Think of thick cut, highly seasoned, smoked, pork jerky!  To me this is the best description I can think of.

It takes four days to make Tasso from start to finish.  Most of that time the Tasso is resting in the refrigerator curing.  I smoke mine using Mesquite lump charcoal for heat and pecan wood for smoke.
Here are some pictures of what it looks like during the process.
This picture shows the Tasso after it has cured in the refrigerator for three days and has air dried for two hours.
Here is a close up of the Tasso before it is put into the smoker.
A photo of the Tasso in the smoker.  Note the thermometer probe.  I smoked the Tasso at 160 degrees for about 4 hours and then increased the heat to 190 degrees for another two hours.
A view of the batch after it was smoked.
A close up view of some of the smoked Tasso.

Here is the recipe:

Homemade Tasso Recipe

5 lbs Pork loin cut into 1 inch square by 5 inch long pieces

3 Tbsp Kosher Salt
2 Tsp Cayenne or To Taste
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 this allows it start drying and form a pellicle.  Allow it to dry for at least two hours.   You can do this in the refrigerator.

I used mesquite lump charcoal for the heat and pecan wood for the smoke.
I smoked it for about 4 hours at approximately 160 degrees and then increased the heat to 190 degrees for 2 hours.

I hope you enjoy.

Until next time.

Bon Appetit Ya"ll

Chef Leslie Bartosh