My son and daughter-in-law are hosting Christmas this year and Laurie decided she wanted to do a Cajun Christmas for a change. I decided to make boudin sausage (pronounced bow-dan) and gumbo. I asked her to come over to help me make boudin, a sausage I fell in love with when Jim and I spent time in Cajun country in southern Louisiana. Our first encounter was at Fred’s Lounge in Mamou, a tavern that is only open on Sundays. We got there early, at 7:30 because there are very few seats. The band starts about 9:00 and plays non-stop until five. The band doesn’t take breaks, they are on radio while playing and one member at a time gets up to have bite to eat or use the bathroom. A couple came in with a paper bag of boudin and another of chitlins to share. So, at 7:30 in the morning, we ate boudin for breakfast. Man, that stuff is good.
In Calvin Trillin’s words:
In Calvin Trillin’s words:
“I figure that about 80 percent of the boudin purchased in Louisiana is consumed before the purchaser has left the parking lot, and most of the rest is polished off in the car. In other words, Cajun boudin not only doesn’t get outside the state; it usually doesn’t even get home.”
– Calvin Trillin, from his essay, “The Missing Links: In Praise of the Cajun Foodstuff That Doesn’t Get Around.”
I was given a cookbook, MaBee, What Ya Cooking? by Janet Theriot in 2010. She had a recipe for boudin. Her cookbook is homestyle cooking with not exactly precise measurements as in: “One Boston butt pork roast or hogs head, salt , red and black pepper, 1 cup chopped parsley, 1 cup of chopped green onions and about 5 cups of rice. Cut roast in big chuncks and cover with water and boil until really tender.
I decided to look on-line and get more precise directions and we came up with a recipe for 6 lbs of meat to 21 cups of rice, basically three batches, with the onions and parsley and a number of spices and went to work.
The first batch, we kept tasting and tasting. To heck with the casings, Laurie, Ken, the boys and I, ate the first batch for dinner with a salad. We put the steaks Ken was going to barbeque back in the fridge. The stuff is scrumptious.
It is a job that dirties every dish in the cupboard, but worth the work. We didn’t have a sausage stuffer and used a pastry tube to load the casings by hand.
They are variable sizes and uneven looking, and we didn’t actually taste one of sausages since we ate the first batch.
I was a bit daunted by cooking 21 cups of rice, but it is easy in a roasting pan in the oven and turned out just perfect. Now, the rest of the story. Laurie ground both batches of meat and I put in one batch of seven cups of rice. One of those easy miss-steps with two cooks in the kitchen. I have no doubt it will taste good with half the rice. It may be a bit spicier. I’ll let you know.
In the meantime, I wanted to find the origin of boudin so I looked it up on-line. Historian Bob Carriker puts it like this:
The French eat a sausage called “boudin blanc” (white boudin) which is similar to Cajun boudin almost solely through its nomenclature; for French boudin blanc is a highly perishable sausage made with pork, chicken, and/or veal mixed with milk, cognac, and spices. …its flavor bears no resemblance to the link you will sink your teeth into in Louisiana. When the French Acadians (today’s Cajuns) made their way out of Nova Scotia, after having been expelled by the British in 1755, they adapted their traditions and culture to their new surroundings. So, when they set out to make use of a freshly butchered hog, it wouldn’t have been such a stretch for them to mix the pork scraps with the seasonings at hand, push it into the hog’s intestines and call it what they had always called such a sausage: boudin. . Later, once large-scale rice production began in Louisiana at the end of the nineteenth century, cooks added rice to boudin for filler and flavor. Today in places like St. Martinville, at La Grande Boucherie des Cajuns (a communal hog butchering) held the Sunday before Mardi Gras, the age old practice of making boudin is embraced and the custom and community spirit continues to be passed from one generation to the next.
I am so glad to have discovered this special treat and thankful to have MaBee’s cookbook. I’ll be using her ettouffee recipe and a real original called shrimp puppies. I can hardly wait. You can read more about boudin and find out where to order boudin on this web page.