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Tasso ham with creamy polenta and local eggs

Recipe by:

Chef Mark Estee
Liberty Food & Wine Exchange 


  • Pork and dry cure
    5 lb. Mangalista pork butt (cut into 3-by-6-inch pieces, 2 inches thick)
    1 lb. kosher salt
    1/2 lb. brown sugar
    2 tbsp. pink salt (also known as tinted curing mixture)
    2 cinnamon sticks
    1 tbsp. ground nutmeg
    4 bay leaves
    2 serrano peppers (split)
  • Tasso spices
    4 tbsp. cayenne pepper
    4 tbsp. ground marjoram
    4 tbsp. ground allspice
    2 tbsp. ground white pepper    
    2 tbsp. ground black pepper    
    1 tbsp. ground nutmeg
  • Polenta
    4 cups chicken stock
    1 cup polenta (white, yellow or a mix; we prefer traditional, but instant works)
    2 cups grated cheese (such as a mix of Pecorino and Reggiano)
    1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
    Salt and pepper, to taste
  • To serve
    8 to 10 eggs
    Fresh herbs


To dry-cure pork: Mix cure, coat both sides of pork and place in a pan to cure for 4 hours. Pack extra cure on pork. After 4 hours, rinse pork and dry with towel.

For tasso spices: Rub cured pork with tasso spices and smoke until internal temperature reaches 150 degrees. There are many ways to smoke, but in this case it would be considered hot smoking. You can do in a stand-alone unit or a stovetop, or you can build one yourself. Once tasso is cooked, let rest. It will keep in the refrigerator for a few weeks, or it freezes really well.

For polenta: Heat stock and polenta and cook slowly over low heat for 2 hours. You may need to add another cup or two of stock. As mixture thickens, continue to stir. Add cheese and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. 

To serve: Serve warm polenta into a bowl. Top with shaved tasso and a fried, sunny-side-up egg. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper and a little tuft of fresh herbs tossed with extra virgin olive oil.

Note: The amount of tasso is only 3 ounces per dish, so there is leftover tasso, but that is a good thing.  

Serves 8 to 10

Califonia Bountiful