What is Boudin?
Traveling along I10 towards the Creole Nature Trail, I notice innumerable advertisements for crawfish and boudin. I’ve had plenty of crawfish while traveling through the southeast, but only have a cursory knowledge of boudin. Much to my surprise, there is a Boudin Trail in the Lake Charles, LA area.
Boudin (boo-DAN) is a regional specialty found only in Southern Louisiana. It is a sausage traditionally made with pork, rice, seasonings, and various vegetables, such as onions and green peppers. The varieties are, however, seemingly endless.
- Boudin blanc: Light colored boudin
- Crawfish boudin: made with crawfish tails and rice
- Shrimp boudin: made with cooked shrimp and rice
- Alligator boudin: made with cooked alligator and rice
- Venison boudin: made with deer meat and rice
- Hot boudin: Spiciness will vary
- Smoked boudin: links that have been placed in a smokehouse to infuse flavor
As the ingredients vary, so does the cooking methods. Boudin can be boiled, baked, smoked, steamed and often rolled into balls and fried.
The fried boudin balls are about racquetball size. Often served with the local Wow Wee (similar to a remoulade) dipping sauce The pork and rice sausage is tasty, but I find the fried crust a little overpowering and a distraction from the taste of the pork and spices.
I prefer the links, either boiled or baked. The flavors are outstanding and I like the little snap that the pork casing provides when biting into it. Think kielbasa.
The best way to find your favorite boudin is to sample it. Most places are mom and pop food establishments, specialty meat shops, or grocery store that have boudin fresh or packaged for carry-out and at home cooking.
Where you find boudin you’re most likely to find craklins too. Considered a staple snack in the southern regions of the Bayou State, craklins are essentially fried bacon with the skin still on. The hair in singed off the pork, then it is cubed and deep fried. After frying, the cubes are sprinkled with cajun spice and ready to eat. The outer skin tastes like a traditional pork rind but the meaty cube attached to it has a different, non-smoked, taste than traditional bacon.
The Boudin Trail –
When traveling the trail it’s apparent that Southern Louisana people live off the land, and it reflects in the food and culture. Many restaurants offering deer processing services and/or the cooking of your catch.Most of the restaurants I visited also have coolers of meat greeting me at the door. Various cuts of venison, pork, chicken and every kind of sausage imaginable are available for takeout.
Below are just a few of the restaurants and meat markets that have prepared boudin. There are literally dozens more that have packaged sausages to-go for cooking later. Bon apetite, ces’t bon!