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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George thank you for the recipe. I transplanted to Central Texas and plan to make some boudin soon. I prefer less rice personally. My big question is how much liver. If I’m looking for a recipe from like the 1960’s or 1970’s is the ratio still 25% liver? I like the liver flavor so was curious if it used to be more liver than today. Thanks!
George Graham says
Hey Babineaux- Boudin is like snowflakes; no two are alike. You will find varying degrees of liver, and I always seek out the ones that are heavy on the liver flavor. Experimentation with this recipe until you find the balance that works for you is the only direction I can give you. All the best.
I saved this recipe to my “Cajun” file but figure I’ll always buy it. Even out of state, I can find DJ’s boudin from Beaumont. Nick’s Grocery in Port Arthur made my most favorite boudin ever. No one got out of the parking lot with the amount of boudin they bought b/c eating it in your car w/ crackers and your “traveling” Tabasco sauce container was the way to go. When Nick’s closed a couple of years ago, I rushed down on the last day but, alas, they had literally locked the doors. They did open the door to let me stick my head in to get one last whiff of that wonderful smell.
I love anything Cajun, and I’m looking for Cajun recipes.
Mack Donovan says
Can I delete the liver, Little store in Gillis Louisiana makes it with out liver best I have ever eaten.
George Graham says
Mack – As always, my recipes should be tweaked to your tastes. All the best.
tracy sarsycki says
My favorite was from Billy’s. Think because less ground meat. Not really found a boudin I have not liked. Thanks for info.
How do u cook the patties when it’s not in casing? Thx.
George Graham says
Beth- Good question. Simple answer. Just like a Jimmy Dean sausage patty, the boudin will shape to any size patty, and with a sheen of oil in a hot pan, you’re in for a treat. I top mine with a fried egg, but I know some who swear by a spicy Boudin Burger. Experiment with boudin in many forms (boudin-stuffed bell pepper, anyone?), and you will be surprised how versatile it is.
Not to be mean but yall Texans need to stick to barbecue and tex mex food. Im a native of louisiana born and raised in Lafayette and Houma. Ive had boudin in Texas and it had way too much rice and they put oregano in it! lol who puts oregano in boudin? Again no offense i love my Texan neighbors and i have many friends and family there. So god bless yall.
Billy’s boudin is the best I have ate. Drive from Houston or either I would order Billy’s boudin.
I’ve had as much boudin during many trips to Louisiana as possible. Frankly, I’ve never had BAD boudin. Trying to choose a “best” boudin is a fool’s mission, although a very tasty one.
One question about your basic recipe: is the meat/liver ratio based on a bone-in or boneless pork shoulder? I am assuming it is bone-in, but I’ll appreciate your clarification.
George Graham says
Jonathan- Either with or without the bone, the pork roast will be tasty, and when pulsed (obviously the bone will be removed) in the food processor, it will be ready to incorporate into the rice in the proper ratio. All the best.
Red Harmony says
How can Billy’s possibly not be on the map? What’s that about?
George Graham says
Hey Red- I mention Billy’s in my story, and they have one of the best boudin links around; their boudin balls are the ones I compare all others to. As for a map, I am not sure what you are referencing. If you are talking about the Boudin Trail website, then you need to contact them to express your preference for Billy’s. All the best.
Dee Arvie says
I found this guy who is from Ville Platte and he makes just about all the Louisiana favorites, from sauce piquante to pepper jack boudin balls/egg rolls to deer and buffalo sausages to gratton (cracking). He goes by the name of Kajun Soul Food and Specialty Meats of Texas. He’s authentic. He can be reached at 346.412.6644. Tell them Dee sent you. No need to travel to Louisiana anymore.
Harry Coleman says
Nick’s Grocery was my go to for Boudain, crawfish & smoked, many others. They closed, so now living in Oklahoma, I would like to know where I could order & get great boudain shipped to me.
George Graham says
Hey Harry – One of the best boudin links in Acadiana is from The Best Stop in Scott, LA. They ship direct to you; just the follow the link. All the best.