Tasso ham is quick cured and smoked pork shoulder (boston butt). It’s very easy to make and is an important ingredient in dishes like Gumbo, Shrimp and Grits, soups and gravys. Again, as you’ll hear me say through out this blog, a high quality cut of pork is important. Quality ingredients give you quality product. Small heritage and organically fed breeds tend to not have the dried out lean meat that the mass produced breeds do and therefor are going to have more flavor and more fat. Fat is good. Maybe not good for you but good when you are making things with pork. Get fatty, well marbled pork. Period. If the hog is high quality the fat on it will also be high quality. Trust me, there is a difference. Ok back to the Tasso.
This recipe calls for a boston butt weighing around 3 pounds. The boston butt is a cut from the front leg of the hog at the shoulder. It is a muscle group that sees heavy use and that gives the meat a nice marbling and a stronger pork flavor. Have your butcher debone the butt which will make slicing it much easier. Slice the butt into 1 to 2 inch thick slices. I tend to do 1 inch because the cure has more surface area to act on, and the meat doesn’t spend that much time in the cure.