This is a great use of country style ribs when you find a bunch on sale and want to have a little project. Tasso ham is a piece of pork shoulder meat that has been cured, highly seasoned and then smoked. It typically is not eaten by itself but rather as seasoning meat for a pot of beans or greens and is also a nice addition to a pot of jambalaya.
To cure the country style ribs simply coat them thoroughly with Morton TenderQuick (MTQ). You want to use 1 tablespoon of MTQ per pound of meat; do not go over this application rate as you don’t want to load up you food with too many nitrites and nitrates. Take the country style ribs that have been coated with MTQ, place them in a Ziplock bag and let them hang out in your refrigerator for 2-3 days while the cure works its magic.
After 2-3 days remove the cured country style ribs from the refrigerator, rinse them thoroughly with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. At this point you coat the pork with a spice rub and start getting your smoker ready.
I have not seen a standard spice rub for Tasso ham. In general the flavor profile is bold and spicy. Some people like to emphasize the spicy and rub the pork with black, white and cayenne pepper. I went with more of a Bold profile and used equal parts black pepper, paprika and chili powder. Whatever you go with remember you don’t need any salt in the mix as the pork is already loaded from the cure.
I smoked these on my Weber Jumbo Joe set up with indirect heat. I was running a hot fire (I threw on a few chunks of pecan after I took the picture) and let these smoke for two hours. Some folks like to run a cooler fire and smoke for 4-6 hours. You only need to cook these to an internal temp of 150F. You are not going for “fall apart tender”. By the way, the Weber Jumbo Joe is a great little grill. If you are in the market for a new grill make sure you give the Jumbo a look.
You can vacuum seal these, throw them in the freezer and pull some out whenever you need some seasoning meat. One of the nice things about storing these for later use is that the smoke flavor intensifies during storage in the vacuum sealed bags.