Bucatini Alfredo with Shrimp and Tasso Dust

Creamy alfredo highlighted with smoky pork and caramelized shrimp with a touch of whimsy from the tasso dust.

Chef Notes: We have had Shrimp and Tasso Pasta on our menus for decades. It is a fan favorite but has been heavy with lots of butter, cream, cheese, and smokey tasso. This is an updated version of that dish utilizing oils in place of compound butters and taking advantage of as much of the smokey tasso as possible while not feeling so weighted down.

3 packages Barilla Bucatini
Ingredients for the alfredo:
6 cups heavy whipping cream
¾ pound grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
6 tablespoons salted butter
coarse fresh cracked pepper to taste
sea salt to taste
3 pounds 21/25 shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons creole or Italian seasoning blend
6 fluid ounces reserved tasso oil
tasso dust to taste
chive oil to taste
6 tablespoons green onion slivers
18 each parmesan crisps
Ingredients for the tasso dust:
1 ½ pound smoked pork tasso
1 ½ cup canola oil
Ingredients for the chive oil:
6 ounces fresh chives or green onion tips
2 ¼ cup canola or light olive oil
Ingredients for the parmesan crisps:
1 ½ cup parmigiano reggiano, freshly grated
  1. Bring the water to a full boil in a large pot.
  2. Stir in the salt and add the pasta.
  3. Stir to prevent sticking, then boil for 7-8 minutes.
  4. Drain well and hold warm.
  5. Bring the cream to a simmer in a pot.
  6. Whisk in the cheese, salt, and cracked pepper. Simmer and continue to stir until the cheese is melted completely.
  7. Add the pasta to the sauce and toss to coat. Add some of the pasta water to adjust desired consistency.
  8. Heat the reserved tasso oil in a skillet until shimmering.
  9. Toss the shrimp with the creole seasoning then add to the tasso oil.
  10. Cook for 3-4 minutes until pink and curled with a little caramelization around the edges.
  11. Divide the pasta and shrimp among serving bowls.
  12. Generously sprinkle the tasso dust over the pasta, drizzle the chive oil on and around the pasta, and garnish with the green onion slivers and parmesan crisps.

For the tasso dust and oil:

  1. Process the tasso in a food processor until a fine crumb is achieved.
  2. Place the tasso crumble and oil in a small pot.
  3. Place over very low heat and allow the tasso to slowly render its fat for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Once the oil starts to foam, drain the tasso in a fine mesh strainer. Reserve the oil.
  5. Transfer the tasso to a tray lined with paper towels and blot dry.

For the chive oil:

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and have an ice bath ready.
  2. Cut the chives into 1” pieces.
  3. Dip the chives in the boiling water for 10 seconds or until bright vibrant green.
  4. Quickly transfer to the ice bath to cool.
  5. Blot the chives with paper towels until dry.
  6. Process the chives with the oil in a blender for 4 minutes until a smooth oil is achieved.
  7. Pass through a fine mesh strainer and allow to settle.

For the parmesan crisps:

  1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line a sheet tray with a non-stick mat.
  3. Grate the cheese into 6 piles directly on the mat.
  4. Bake for 5-7 minutes or until the cheese is melted and light brown.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 1 minute, then remove from the tray with a spatula to a clean pan.