I've not posted any cooking recipes and I like to cook. Shame on me! Today we will cook a dish from the 'Gumbo Shop' in New Orleans. You can substitute shrimp for the crawfish if you can't find them and use your favorite ham instead of the Tasso.
For those of you who aren't familiar with Tasso, it is a very spicy piece of pork. According to Wikipedia, Tasso ham is a specialty of Cajun cuisine. It is a spicy, peppery version of smoked pork made from the shoulder butt. In this case, "ham" is a misnomer, since tasso is not made from the hind leg of a pig. This cut is typically fatty, though leaner cuts are often used and have a great deal of flavor. The butt, which will weigh 7 to 8 pounds, is sliced across the grain into pieces about 3 in / 7.5 cm thick. These are dredged in a salt cure, which usually includes nitrates and sugar. The meat is left to cure briefly, only three or four hours, then rinsed, rubbed with a spice mixture containing Cayenne pepper and garlic, and hot-smoked until cooked through.
Tasso is not typically eaten on its own. It is used in dishes ranging from pasta to crab cakes, soup to gravy. Appropriate to its roots, tasso is most often found in recipes of southern or Cajun/Creole origin, such as jambalaya.
This is a dish that I made and served at my wedding...and yes, I used crawfish and tasso...
PASTA WITH CRAWFISH AND TASSO
1 pound pasta, preferably imported Rotini or Fusili
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 pound tasso or smoked ham
1 1/2 cups shallots, chopped
4 cloves garlic minced
2 cups heavy cream (whipping cream)
1 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 pound peeled crawfish tails
1/4 cup parsley
First, gather your ingredients:
Cook pasta according to package directions, being careful not to overcook. Rinse in cold water and set aside.
Melt butter in a large skillet. Cut tasso in a 1/4 inch dice. Saute in butter until lightly browned. Add garlic, stir and cook for one minute. Add shallots and cook until tender.
Add cream, white pepper, cayenne and salt. Bring to a boil and cook about one or two minutes, or until slightly thickened, stirring often. Add crawfish (or shrimp) and parsley. Stir and cook for 2 or 3 minutes. If using fresh shrimp, make sure the shrimp are cooked through. This is what it will look like before adding the pasta:
Add pasta*, mix in well and cook until pasta is heated through. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 - 6 entrees or 8 - 10 appetizers.
*The sauce will thicken when the pasta is added and should also be slightly spicier before adding pasta.
Oh, and I did post about 'Chicken Creole' here: http://barefootchef.blogspot.com/2008/07/feel-like-cooking-lets-try-chicken.html