Unless you live in Louisiana, tasso style ham is not an easy-to-find ingredient on most grocery or specialty store shelves. This cured and spiced ham (traditionall made from the hind leg of the pig) adds a wonderful flavor and depth to almost any New Orleans dish: jambalaya, gumbo, étouffée, in sauces, incorporated into pasta dishes and more. This version of Tasso deviates from the dry cure and uses a wet brine method instead. The heavily seasoned brine infuses a creole flavor into the pork meat, while also enhancing its tenderness. It also uses a lesser used cut, the pig head, full of wonderful muscles that become incredible tender and delicious as they cook. This Tasso Beer-Brined Pig Head recipe has more flavor, from all the muscles, tendons and skin, that create a stock full of flavor and collagen, making the finished stock full of extra nutrients.
Using the pig head is also cheaper to make than if you were to use a pork butt or shoulder, which I list as an alternative to this recipe below. i wanted to pay attention to the lesser used parts of the animal in this recipe. As there is only one head per animal, which is often discarded. My local butcher used to just give me the pigs head, not charging me for it, as know one else ever asked for it. Now I do pay for them, but they are cheap, in comparison to a full muscle, such as the butt ,shoulder, or ham. And except for having to call and order the pig head ahead of time, it will benefit this recipe and especially if you are making the Tasso Beer-Brined Pig Head Gumbo recipe.
This finished Tasso can be used in many dishes. As listed above, and to make many different meals. Try adding it to Red Beans & Rice, to potatoes (mashed or roasted), added to soups instead of a ham hock, or even added to crab cakes, adding it’s unique seasoned and cured flavor to decadent crab meat.
Makes: 3 – 4 pounds usable meat and 2 gallons stock