Pronunciation: [TAH-soh; TA-soh]

Much to the disappointment of many, this Cajun specialty is generally hard to find outside Louisiana. Tasso is a lean chunk of cured pork (usually shoulder) or beef that's been richly seasoned with ingredients such as red pepper, garlic, filé powder and any of several other herbs or spices, depending on the manufacturer. It's then smoked for about (again, depending on the cook) two days. The result is a firm, smoky and flavorfully tangy meat that is principally used for seasoning. Outside of Cajun country, tasso is available in some specialty gourmet shops and by mail order. It can be refrigerated, tightly wrapped, for up to a week. Though it's sometimes referred to as tasso ham and is most often finely chopped and used (like ham, prosciutto, pancetta or salt pork) to flavor foods such as beans, eggs and pastas, the spicy-hot tasso most definitely isn't ham.

From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.

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