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An appetizing first course from the flavor center of the universe, Louisiana. Courtesy of Chef Jamie Shannon of Commander's Palace, featured in The Louisiana New Garde television series. Tasso ham is a specialty of Cajun cuisine and is a spicy, peppery version of smoked pork made from the shoulder butt.
- 8 ounces tasso, cut into 32 matchsticks
- 30 shrimp (jumbo, peeled, deveined and butterflied)
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups milk
- 2 cups flour
- vegetable oil, for frying (about 8 cups)
- 1 leaf lettuce leaf, for garnish (optional)
- 1 1⁄2 cups white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 3⁄4 cup corn syrup
- 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
- 1 green bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced
- 1⁄8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Crystal Butter Sauce
- 1⁄2 cup hot sauce (Crystal brand preferred but any Louisiana hot sauce will do)
- 1⁄2 cup dry white wine (Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio)
- 1⁄2 tablespoon shallot, peeled and minced
- 1⁄4 tablespoon garlic, peeled and minced
- 2 cups unsalted butter
- For the pepper jelly: Combine the vinegars and corn syrup in a large saucepan and bring to the boil.
- Reduce heat to a slow boil and cook until liquid is reduced by half (about 15 minutes).
- Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for ten minutes; remove from heat and let cool.
- For the butter sauce: Combine the first four ingredients together in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until mixture is reduced by half; let cool to warm.
- Slowly add the butter, about 1/4 cup at a time, stirring constantly.
- The key to the sauce is to keep it warm (not hot) at all times.
- Preheat oil in a large saucepan or a fryer to 350°F.
- Place a piece of tasso inside the slitted shrimp and secure with a toothpick.
- Beat eggs and milk together until well blended.
- Dip each shrimp into liquid then dredge with flour.
- Deep-fry shrimp in batches about 4 minutes or until golden.
- Remove and drain on absorbent paper.
- To assemble: Arrange 1/4 cup of pepper jelly on warm salad plate;.
- Dip shrimp into warm butter sauce to coat evenly.
- Place five shrimp on each plate in an attractive fashion and garnish with a bit of green lettuce.