Recipe: Cajun Fiya Tasso Ham

3 Comments

DSC_0235

It is known, bacon makes everything better. Yet, I’ve discovered bacon’s Cajun cousin and let me tell you, she can dramatically spice things up.  She is definitely a ham.   Her name, is Tasso and she wants you to cast her in your next dish.

When Oliver and I both shot the same pig, one of our bullets caught the shoulder.   After cutting away the ruined portion, I was left with a a few oddly shaped hunks of meat.  Tasso didn’t mind.

Cut from the shoulder of a pig, Tasso is  heavily spiced  and hot smoked.  This is an easy afternoon project.  Moreover, commercial spice mixes work well with her.  My buddy Coby from near Rayne, Louisiana is making his own spice mix called Cajun Fiya and it’s out of this world good.  Lots of spice but not overwhelmingly salty or hot, I’ve been eating this on everything from steaks to popcorn.  Today I used it for my Tasso.

Anytime your dish could use a little more spice, smoke, or fat, invite Tasso. Remember, she brings her own salt, so reduce the salt in your recipe.  She’s accustomed to supporting roles in dishes like red beans and rice, gumbos, and jambalayas–but don’t typecast her because she’s shines in soups and stews, cornbread, and sliced thin as part of a charcuterie plate with fruit.

 

Ingredients

  • Deboned shoulder of a pig, cut in portions 1 -3 inches thick.
  • 1 pound of kosher salt
  • 13 ounces of dextrose
  • 3 ounces of pink salt
  • 8 ounces of Cajun Fiya

Method

  • Combine salt, dextrose and pink salt.  This basic dry cure is the same I used in my wild boar bacon recipe.
  • Dip the pork shoulder in the cure, making sure to entirely coat the meat.  You will have more dry cure than necessary, so save it for the next batch.  Cover and refrigerate for 4-5 hours.
  • Remove from fridge and rinse under cool water.  Pat dry.
  • Cover each piece with Cajun Fiya and hot smoke to an eternal temperature of 157.  I chose apple wood for my smoke flavor, but hickory, pecan, or oak would be acceptable too.
  • Vacuum seal or package in saran wrap and butcher paper.  It keeps well in the freezer and for about 2 weeks in the fridge.

 

Tremendous Top Ten: Tools For Making Bacon

12 Comments
20140205-120658.jpg

This bacon was cut into lardons and used in a pot of pinto beans.

Bacon could possibly be the perfect wife. Bacon is romantic. She is supportive and can be independent, but not overpowering. Those wrapped in her fat, salty embrace–think filet-mignon, shrimp, or cheddar cheese stuffed jalepenos–though formidable in their own right, are made better by her. She’s a social charmer; at home in a 5 star restaurant, yet flourishes at your local greasy spoon. Bacon can be sweet or spicy, whatever your mood desires. Even better, she’s easy– if you have the right tools:

1. Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing by Michael Ruhlman and Bryan Polcyn. This is the preeminent book on meat preservation and an excellent starting point for learning to make bacon, hams, and sausages.

2. Pork. If you enjoy chasing and killing wild boar for food, don’t pass on the opportunity to make bacon. However, you will need a decent sized piggy, about 125 + to get the kind of thickness necessary to make a few rashers. Otherwise, sweet talk your local butcher. Most recipes call for 3-5 pounds of pork belly.

3. Coarse Kosher Salt. I use Morton’s and it has worked fine.

4. Instacure # 1 . You are looking for 6.25% Sodium Nitrite. It goes by different names such as DQ curing Salt #1 and Prague Powder. It’s candy colored and dangerous so keep it away from munchkins.

5. Dextrose. Part of Ruhlman’s basic cure recipe, it does a better job than granulated sugar.

6. Electronic Scale. It’s better to weigh your ingredients and this little scale is just right. It’s small, so storage isn’t and issue. It’s also the right price.

7. Zip Lock Bags. The largest you can find to store the bacon while its curing. Otherwise, you deal with contamination issues and its more difficult to redistribute the cure.

8. Refrigerator. I like having a second fridge for doing my curing but it’s not necessary. A small fridge like you had in the dorm will work fine.

9. Smoker. Unless you have your own stand alone smoke house, I really like the new electric smokers on the market now. They are only slightly more complicated than a microwave, don’t require much wood, and can be adjusted to allow for “cold smoking.”.

10. High End Ingredients. This is bacon and that nutmeg that’s been in your cupboard for two years won’t cut it. Use fresh ingredients.

I have some maple/brown sugar bacon curing in the fridge right now and will show you my recipe soon.  Have you cured your own bacon before?