Can I just start off by saying this is THE most popular meal at our house! I’d say almost once a week we eat this! Something smothered in a gravy, at least.
What is tasso you ask? “Tasso ham is a specialty of south Louisiana 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.” Wikipedia (Yes, I just copied and paste the definition because I don’t think I could properly explain it to Louisiana outsiders. I had heard of it but never had it until I married Joe, and I’m pretty sure I agreed to cook it at every other meal otherwise it would be grounds for divorce. Oh and I found this blog by a guy who made his own tasso (maybe that will be our next cooking project!) That should give you a good idea about what it is and whats in it. Of course its not Lejeune’s)
So yeah, we eat a ton of this stuff, which is probably why I look like a stuffed pig… you are what you eat, right? (Well whatever! I’m fat.. and I’m HAPPY! ) Tasso has taken my taste buds to a whole new level in the flavor department. I would probably eat tasso on a wedding cake if it were an option. (If they can put bacon on a cupcake, they sure as hell can put tasso on a wedding cake! I may be on to something there! And you heard it here first!) We use it in our jambalaya, we smother it with chicken and sausage, its killer in a gumbo (it actually makes your gumbo a bazillion times better), pretty much anything you do with bacon, you can do with tasso. Given that you slice it like bacon. We don’t. Our comes in huge hunks and then I cut it down to bite size pieces after that. (Again, sorry for the lack of visuals, I’ll try and get something together soon! Probably the next time I cook this!)
Where can you get tasso? I’ve only seen it in Louisiana. I’m sure you could order it online, but you’ll probably pay a pretty penny for it. Joe’s parents bring us our monthly ration when they come to visit or we get some when we go in. We also get smoked sausage but I didn’t use it in this recipe, saving that for later.
The recipe I’m going to share is a bit like the one from the Marshes to Masionscookbook. I omitted a couple things but thought this recipe was similar to what I do at home and am sharing it because it gives exact measurements for you folks at home. (As you know by now, I live by the “season to taste” creed and never really fuss over being precise because its all in how you like your flavor. You can’t do this with baking though, which is probably why I have a love/hate relationship with my oven.)
Now for the moment you’ve been waiting for! Drum roll please! :::::::ppppppdddddddddddddd::::
**(changes I made will be in bold)**
- 8 thick center-cut pork chops
- Calcasieu (pronounced: Cal-ka-shoe) seasoning mix TO TASTE (see what I mean, even the book knows what’s up!)
- 1 tbs Prudhomme’s Meat Magic Seasoniong
- I don’t have either of the above so I used Tony Chachere’s and seasoned to taste
- 3 Slices bacon (I used tasso, cut into bite size pieces)
- 2 tbs tomato paste (I didn’t use any)
- 2 onions, chopped (I used one)
- 6 garlic cloves, minced (I probably used 1 tbs’s worth)
- 1 cup chopped celery (I didn’t)
- 6 carrots, cut into 1/2 inch slices (nope!)
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced into rings (negative, I used green because its what I had and I chopped it! I’m a badass!)
- 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced into rings (again, I’m a total rebel and didn’t do this either!)
- 1/4 cup minced flat-leaf parsley (I used dried and less than 1/4 cup)
- 1 (16-ounce) can no salt-added diced tomatoes (I cut up one Roma that was left over from my garden)
- 12 fresh button mushrooms, sliced (totally did this! I heart mushrooms!)
- 1 tsp whole cloves (I don’t like cloves, didn’t do it! You can’t make me!)
- 2 tbs Calcasieu (there’s that funny word again!) season mix (just about any cajun seasoning will do really)
- 3/4 cup shiraz (didn’t have any)
- 1/4 cup shiraz (see above)
- Hot cooked noodles (we think rice is nice!)
Season pork chops with seasoning mix and the Meat Magic seasoning. Cook the bacon (or tasso if you have it) in a 10-inch cast-iron sauce pan (I used a large, heavy skillet) until crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain; crumble. Add the pork chops to the bacon drippings and brown on both sides. Remove the pork chops to a plate and add the tomato paste to the sauce pan. (Since I wasn’t using tomato paste, I just added the rest of the ingredients from here, sauteed for a bit then added the pork chops back). Simmer until the tomato paste is brown, stirring frequently. Add the onions, garlic, celery, carrots, red/yellow bell peppers, and parsley. Saute over medium heat until tender. Stir in the tomatoes, mushrooms, cloves, crumbled bacon and 2 tbs seasoning mix. Simmer 1 hour. ( After I added my pork chops back, added enough water to just barely over them, then I let it simmer for 2hrs, turning the pork chops every 30 mins and adding water if it started to get dry). Stir in 3/4 cup wine and add the pork chops.
in preheated 300-degree oven for 1 hour or to 170 degrees on a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest portion of the pork chops. Stir in 1/4 cup wine and serve over noodles. (or rice)
Here’s an appetizer I made on the fly.
Credits: Marshes to Mansions: Treasured Recipes of South Louisiana (Junior League of Lake Charles) http://www.jllc.net