Much to the disappointment of anyone who’s tasted it, this Cajun specialty is generally hard to find outside Louisiana. Tasso is a lean chunk of cured pork (usually shoulder) or beef that’s been richly seasoned with ingredients such as red pepper, garlic, File Powder and any of several other herbs or spices, depending on the manufacturer. It’s then smoked for about (again, depending on the cook) 2 days.

The result is a firm, smoky and flavorful, tangy meat that is principally used for seasoning. Outside of Cajun country, tasso is available in some specialty gourmet shops and by mail order. It can be refrigerated, tightly wrapped, for up to a week.

Though it’s sometimes referred to as tasso ham and is most often finely chopped and used (like ham, Prosciutto, Pancetta or Salt Pork) to flavor foods such as beans, eggs and pastas, the spicy-hot tasso most definitely isn’t ham.

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