Thursday, December 1, 2016

TX takes LA: Boudin

by Rachel Hamburger, intern

In this installment of TX takes LA, I’m talking about BOUDIN!!! Boudin is something that always intimidated me growing up. I remember hearing a rumor when I was a kid that there were bugs in it… After that I always steered clear.

Beautiful, Bodacious Boudin. Photo Credit: Iverstine Butcher
Beautiful, Bodacious Boudin. Photo Credit: Iverstine Butcher

Once I got to Louisiana, boudin was around me more than ever. It seems like every restaurant here has boudin balls on their menu. Whenever I was with people who ordered them, I never tried them because I was scared of what actually made up “boudin”.

When I let it slip to the rest of the Bite and Booze team that I’d never tried boudin, all their mouths dropped to the floor. It was decided very quickly that I must try boudin. Chuck brought back a box of Tony’s Seafood boudin balls to the office the next week, and I finally got to try boudin.

While boudin balls aren’t boudin in its purest form, it still gave me a chance to try it and the fried version lessened the anxiety of what it was actually made of. I am very finicky about meats, (I even had a brief vegetarian phase for six months last year.) Not finicky about how they taste, but the thought of eating liver and things like that makes me squeamish. As long as I don’t know it’s there, I have no problem; it’s all in my head.

So what is boudin exactly?

It’s typically a mix of pork, rice, onions, green peppers, and seasonings. The Acadians brought boudin to Louisiana from Nova Scotia, although the traditional French “boudin blanc” is much different than the Cajun boudin most know today.

French boudin blanc is made with pork, chicken and/or veal, mixed with milk, cognac and spices; no rice, onions or peppers present. The recipe eventually adapted to the Cajun boudin we know today because the newly migrated Acadians had to be inventive to survive in their new home in Louisiana, and that meant making use of all resources.

They found that you could use many different parts of a hog in sausage, so along came the new form of boudin.

Where did the rice come in?

At the end of the nineteenth century, large-scale rice production began and rice was added to boudin for flavor and filler. There are two types of Cajun boudin: red and white. White is what most are familiar with, the mix of pork, rice, etc., and is pretty much all that is still available today.

Red boudin (blood boudin) is essentially the same as white boudin, but also has a large amount of hogs blood mixed in with it.

All in all, we have the French Acadians to thank for the Cajun boudin many know and love. Their crafty survival skills led to the modern delicacy that is boudin. Personally, now that I’ve tried it, I do think boudin is delicious. Although knowing that some interesting parts of the pig may be used in it does weird me out a lil bit.

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