It’s time to start off the new year with tasty adventure and if you are fortunate enough to live in Louisiana or are planning a trip here, the bayou backroads are a source of delicious discovery. The food culture abounds along these rural highways and byways that offer up a treasure trove of good eating. There’s even a Louisiana Culinary Trails website and downloadable app to help you find what you hunger for. But, one irresistible culinary prize you will find linking all four corners of the state–especially here in Acadiana–is Cajun boudin.
Arguments abound on the source of the best Cajun boudin in Acadiana. The Louisiana state legislature almost came to a screeching halt a few years back as the towns of Broussard and Scott fought over who should be named The Boudin Capital. Even marriages have been known to break up over such a quandary. There are so many options, so many differing styles that it is near impossible to answer the question.
Boudin (boo-dan) blanc is a curious blend of herbs and seasonings with bits of pork and liver included. All combined, put through a grinder, mixed with long-grain Louisiana white rice, and stuffed into a pig’s intestine casing. The good stuff, when you can find it, is boudin noir – pig’s blood added, but that’s for a different discussion.
Boudin blanc stops short of becoming a true smokehouse sausage because it is steamed rather than smoked. The character of Cajun boudin is its moistness–its squeezability. Eating boudin is akin to squeezing a tube of toothpaste, only directly into your waiting mouth. It is the essence of Cajun life and is sold in near about every roadside grocery, convenience store or gas station around.
There is even an official Cajun Boudin Trail pinpointing the location of most every stop along the roads selling the stuff. Robert Carriker has a PhD in Boudin–well, actually history–and he heads up the project as well as the history department at the University of Louisiana Lafayette. Dr. Carriker wrote the book on Cajun boudin. He has not only mapped out the spicy spots on the trail peppered throughout South Louisiana, but the site has reviewed every single one of them at the Boudin Link. I urge you to download a map, hit the trail and join the debate.
Styles differ, and there are certain well-known specialty houses that have become meccas for the true Cajun boudin aficionado. Billeaud’s, Don’s, Best Stop, Kartchner’s, Billy’s, Poche’s, Bourque’s, Johnson’s Boucaniere’s — these are just a few of the A+ rated versions of boudin that provoke endless debate. “This boudin is too ricey…this one’s too spicy…ouch, this boudin is too livery…this one’s too bland”–the dispute rages on. I have a clear winning solution that if adopted (and it won’t) will end this silly babbling battle over Cajun boudin.
They’re all good.
Each has a nuance of flavor and taste profile all its own. It’s like asking which is the better wine–California Cab or Oregon Pinot?
It’s all good.
But, that’s too easy. And to broker an end to that discussion would be a diplomatic impossibility and, well, clearly wrong. So, the debate rages on, and as you travel the Cajun boudin trail in search of the perfect link, it’s not hard to see who the real winner is.
So, before you embark on your boudin-making adventure, take a look at this in-depth video produced by the guys at MUNCHIES. It’s an excellent tutorial on all things boudin with up close interviews and footage of a Cajun boucherie. (Note: Viewer discretion at 13:27 for a voice-over expletive.)
- 1 (4-pound) pork shoulder
- Water, for braising and boiling
- 1 pound pork liver
- 2 large yellow onions, diced
- 2 cups cooked Louisiana long-grain white rice, such as Supreme
- 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
- 4 tablespoons Acadiana Table Cajun Seasoning Blend, see recipe here
- 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
- 1 cup diced green onion tops
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Dash of hot sauce
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
- In a heavy pot with tight-fitting lid, add the pork roast and fill the pot with water to a depth of 4 inches. Cover, place in the hot oven and braise the pork roast for 2 hours or until falling apart. Remove the pork from the pot reserving the cooking liquid.
- In a pot with water over high heat, add the liver and boil until well done, about 10 minutes. Remove the liver and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Add the onions to the liquid and let cook for 2 minutes. Strain the onions and reserve.
- In a rice cooker, make the rice following the package directions and keep warm until ready to use.
- In a food processor pulse the meat and liver along with the onions and garlic until it reaches a smooth, yet chunky consistency. Be careful not to over process to a pasty, mushy stage.
- Incorporate the cooked rice in a ratio of 80% meat mixture to 20% rice. Gradually add some of the cooking liquid until the mixture is moist. Add the Cajun seasoning, cayenne, and green onions. Add salt, black pepper, and hot sauce to taste. Evenly incorporate ingredients together.
- Stuff the mixture into sausage casings using a sausage stuffer.
- Poach the stuffed boudin links in a large pot of simmering (not boiling) water (175ºF) for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove and keep warm.
- To keep the boudin warm without drying out, I suggest wrapping it tightly in aluminum foil and place in a slow cooker set to warm with a half-inch of water in the bottom.
- Optionally, you can form the bulk boudin into patties. If your boudin is not in a casing, then first wrap it in plastic before adding to the slow cooker.
- Boudin links should be eaten hot with an ice-cold beer and saltine crackers. Boudin balls can be rolled in crackers and fried. And boudin patties — one of my favorites — are perfect as a base for fried eggs at breakfast. Any way you try it, boudin is perfectly delicious.
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