Make a Chisesi-style Cajun ham: Inject a little spice into holidays

By Ann Maloney NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

Last May, I tried a new product that I loved, Chisesi Brothers Cajun ham. It is a spicy ham injected with no-salt Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning. It’s great on sandwiches, in white beans and even in tomato gravy served over rice. The first taste reminded me of the flavor of sausage pulled from a spicy crawfish boil. I thought that this year I might serve that spiced ham for the holidays. I imagined it with a sweet satsuma glaze.

Then, I remembered: You cannot buy the Chisesi’s Cajun hams whole. They are sold sliced-only at the deli counters at New Orleans area groceries as well as Winn-Dixies in other Southern states.

(You might be able to persuade them to sell you one whole, but at about $5.99 per pound that can get pricey.)

This inspired me to try to create one myself, so I chatted with Nicholas Chisesi, manager at the company, who generously explained how they came up with the recipe and process for making their Cajun ham. “Chisesi takes a while to do new things,” he said of the New Orleans-based, family-owned business that has been in operation since 1908. Still, the company wanted to add Cajun-flavored roast beef and ham that that were authentic.

“We were sitting around the table and said when you think of Cajun you think of what? You think of Tabasco and you think of Tony Chachere’s.” So, the Chisesis contacted Tony Chachere Famous Creole Cuisine about partnering on a new roast beef and ham with Cajun flavor.

“Most people rub (seasoning) on the outside of the product,” he said. “We have a process that we can get it inside the meat injection.”

In a series of trial-and-error experiments, the hams and roasts were injected with Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning. “We use an exclusive blend that was blended for us with the salt taken out,” he said, noting that this keeps the ham from being too salty.

“The original that we did was way too spicy,” Chisesi said. “It tasted OK to me because I like spicy, but everyone else was freaking out.” Then, they pulled back the spice too far and it was too mild. The experimentation continued until they found the sweet spot.

To make the hams, they inject the pork with the Cajun marinade and then smoke it as usual using hickory wood. “We do the roast beef the same way, then we oven-cook our roast beef,” he said.

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