Monday, November 16, 2009

More fun with dry cure

Sunday morning was a crisp 29 degrees with a heavy layer of frost covering the grasses and weeds, even the wooden bridge decks on the trails. I went for a 5 mile run just as the sun was coming up. Very nice day, relatively calm winds, and the skies fairly clear. I took it kind of easy today after the 11 miler Saturday. The one nature note I have is that I scared up a red fox on the trail. He scuttled off into the frosty weeds near the pond as he saw me coming!

Today was a glorious 48 degrees and sunny. What a great day! I went running after work, once again in shorts - not bad for mid November! I saw a couple of yellow-bellied sapsuckers chasing each other from tree to tree (those two better be heading south soon!). My deer came out to greet me again, including the forkhorn buck. The tree planting project along my trails that I was previously excited about now has me deeply concerned, as the scope appears significantly larger than originally thought (I will say more when I find out some additional details, and by then my comments will likely have morphed into a full blown hissy fit). Anyhow, nice day, nice run, lots of fun.

Saturday I made another recipe from the "Charcuterie" book; tasso ham. Tasso is a quickly cured and heavily spiced Cajun-style ham.

Using my dry cure, I dredged a couple of slabs of pork shoulder and allowed to cure in the fridge for four hours. I then rinsed off all of the cure and salt. Traditionally it is smoked, but as I do not have a smoker, I would be cooking this in a low oven. To compensate for the lack of smoke, I did apply a scant amount of liquid smoke to the meat, and I used smoked paprika in my spice rub (along with sweet paprika, cayenne, onion and garlic powder, black pepper, thyme, sage, allspice, mace, marjoram, unsalted Cajun seasoning, and brown sugar) which I used to liberally season the cured pork.

After cooking in a 200 degree F oven until the internal temperature hit 150, this is what I ended up with:

Two slabs of heavily spiced tasso ham!



You can see that, after curing, the tasso takes on some of the color and texture of ham



The tasso turned out to be very tasty and flavorful. My only regret is that I do not have a smoker, because this would really be something smoked. But it was good. Real good.

Tasso isn't something you eat on its own; rather, it is used in small amounts and serves as more of a seasoning to accent a dish. You will often see this used in gumbo or jambalaya. But there are other applications as well. Could you include some bits of tasso in your morning omelette? Absolutely! Can small chunks of tasso (along with some of my homemade bacon!) find their way into your yellow split pea soup for some added zip? Bring it on! Is it possible to add diced tasso to you New Orleans style BBQ shrimp and serve it over a fire-roasted tomato couscous? Yes it is!

Yellow split pea soup with tasso and homemade bacon



My New Orleans style BBQ shrimp (basically shrimp scampi with some Worcestershire sauce added!) with diced tasso over fire-roasted tomato couscous



Until next time,

Jean
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