WOW! Tasso... Now what?
So, my tummy got all grumby when I saw the picture of Candy's maque-choux. In her post she mentioned how she made sure to throw in some Tasso... Hmmm... Tasso...
Actually I've never had Tasso... I had heard about it and understood it was a type of smoked ham... I read a couple of recipes and saw it being used kinda like sausage or bacon... two of my most favorite things, so today I picked up almost 2lbs of Tasso goodness.
As always, I do have some questions...
What can I expect when I cook with this meat? Does a little go a long way? Is it greasy? Will I need to drain? Watch for over cooking?
I do plan to make some maque-choux, but I doubt that will require the whole 2lbs... So if anytone else has some great recipes or ideas on how to use the rest of it, I'd love to hear it!
Thanks so much again!!!
Not greasy and it will keep. I have some in the freezer, I bought a bunch of it. It is not too spicy but has a nice little bite to it. Use it to season, greens, maque-choux of course, chop it up and put it in cornbread, anywhere you like some ham seasoning but with more character.
Mmmmmmm ... good stuff!
Tasso is generally used as a flavoring, not as a main ingredient. So, while you probably won't use a lot in any one particular dish, you have a wide variety of options.
In the traditional Louisiana style, use it in small cubes as a flavoring in gumbo and jambalaya. Paul Prudhomme even used it sauces (hollandaise, no less) for an extra boost (long before "kick it up a notch" became part of our vernacular).
Try it as part your favorite stuffed pepper or other stuffed vegetable rice-based stuffing.
Add it to pastas as you would pancetta, jowl, etc. (although since tasso is smoked and pancetta is not, this won't be "classic" Italian ... but so what? ... you're trying to get flavor, right?).
Add small cubes to soups that would benefit from its porky, spicy, hammy goodness.
At the risk of going down in Dommy's books as an incorrigible smartass, I could suggest putting chunks of it in macaroni and cheese... ;-)
Seriously, it's seasoning meat of the first order. I'd start thinking about a nice mess of black beans...Tasso, garlic, mebbe a fine-chopped jalapeno...it'd be nice in a frittata, too, with some onion, tomato wedges and avocado.
Okay, now *I* have to go out and get some!
The most important thing to remember is it needs wet heat. Simmering it it liquid for as little as 20 minutes melts its tough parts.
My absolute favorite use is tasso and grits. It is really fantastic. I saute diced tasso for a minute than add water bring to a boil, whisk in grits. Simmer about 20 minutes. I like to add a little Tony Chacheres, but the tasso already has enough spice.
I'm proud to say my dad proclaimed them the best grits he has ever tasted. Big words!
I can go through a package of tasso in about two days. Enjoy!