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  • Writer's pictureTommy Centola

Celebrating birthday with a little smoke

Today is my brother Mike’s birthday. Like most of my family, he is a skillful cook. Where he stands out from the rest of us is that he is a very accomplished pit master. His team, Rugaroux Q, participates in cookoffs around South Louisiana, having won awards for barbecue, jambalaya and gumbo.

To honor him today, I want to share with you some recipes with a smoke theme. The first one is Smoked Tasso, a staple in Cajun cooking. The second is Smoked Chicken and Andouille Jambalaya. The other two recipes are two different variations on a BBQ sauce, Hickory Smoke Sauce and Bud’s Broiler Hickory Sauce. So crank up your smoker, get some meat on, and Let’s head to the kitchen!

Smoked Tasso

Tasso is an ingredient that I often use to help season up a dish. It’s a great addition to a pot of red beans as well as hollandaise sauce. While there are good products available in stores, there’s nothing like home smoked tasso.

4 pounds pork butt

1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon hot sauce

1/2 cup granulated garlic

1/4 cup fresh cayenne pepper

1/4 cup cracked black pepper

1/4 cup salt

1/4 cup brown sugar

Cut pork butt into one half inch thick strips. Place on a baking pan and season with Worcestershire and hot sauces. Once liquids are well blended into meat, add all remaining ingredients. Mix well into meat to ensure that each piece is well coated with the seasoning mixture. Cover with clear wrap and allow to set overnight. Using a home style smoker, and using briquettes flavored with pecan wood. Smoke tasso at 175-200 degrees for two and a half hours. Once cooked, tasso may be frozen.

Smoked Chicken and Andouille Jambalaya

As I have often said, you can make jambalaya with any protein. The smokiness of the chicken brings another level of flavor to this recipe. I always smoke extra chicken so I can have the meat ready for other recipes.

1/2 pound smoked chicken, cut into bite size pieces

1/2 pound andouille sausage (or any sausage), cut into bite size pieces

1/3 cup chopped onions

¼ cup chopped celery

¼ cup chopped green bell pepper

¼ cup chopped garlic

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 cups beef stock

2 cups chicken stock

1 8oz can tomato sauce

2 cups long-grain rice

2 tablespoons salt

2 tablespoons thyme

2 tablespoons marjoram

2 tablespoons Creole seasoning

1 tablespoon paprika

Over medium heat, cook chicken, sausage, onions, celery, bell

pepper, and garlic in olive oil. Add stock, tomato sauce and dry seasonings. Bring to a boil. Add rice. Cover and lower heat to low. Cook until all of the liquid is absorbed, about 20-25 minutes.

Hickory Smoke Sauce

This sauce was used to top hamburgers at the closed Cannon’s restaurant. It is often compared to the recipe that follows. The main difference between the two is the temperature they are served at.

2 cups barbecue sauce

2 cups chili sauce

1/4 cup honey

1 tablespoon onion, minced

2 tablespoons liquid smoke

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1/4 teaspoon yellow mustard

Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly. Keep refrigerated between uses.

Bud’s Broiler Hickory Sauce

Bud’s Broiler is a chain of hamburger restaurants in New Orleans. The first time I tried this on a burger I was hooked. I also like to dip fries in it.

1 1/2 cups tomato sauce

1 1/2 cups ketchup

1/4 cup liquid smoke

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon chili powder

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

Salt to taste

Combine tomato sauce, ketchup, liquid smoke, vinegar, chili powder and Worcestershire sauce in a medium pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until sauce has thickened, about 15-20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and keep warm.

I’m proud to be a member of Rugaroux Q. The main purpose of the team is to collect money for the Hogs for a Cause charity. This money is sent out around the country to help families as they battle Pediatric Brain Cancer. Since 2009, Hogs for a Cause has raised over $1.9 million in direct grants to families and another $3.6 million to hospital programs and charities nationwide. If you find yourself in New Orleans the last weekend in March, check out the festival. It’s delicious food for a great cause!

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