Boudin Blanc

In Louisiana, boudin blanc (or "white boudin") is a wonderful Cajun sausage stuffed with pork and rice. It's one of those food products that originated in frugality; the rice was meant to stretch the meat. Now, it's a unique and delicious treat all itsw own. (There's another style of boudin called "boudin blanc" in France, but it's very different. This is Cajun boudin.)

If you've ever driven through southwest Louisiana and seen the ubiquitous signs that say "HOT BOUDIN", this is what they're talking about. In Acadiana, this is almost like fast food (although fantastic fast food); you can get a piece of hot boudin at the grocery store, at a gas station, at little stands by the side of the road. Boudin rouge, or "red boudin", is a blood sausage, by the way. Boudin rouge is very good, but it must be very fresh, and is getting more difficult to find.

Place the pork and the rest of the stock ingredients in a saucepan, and the pork liver in a separate saucepan. Cover with water (at least 4 quarts), then bring to a boil. Reduce heat, skim and simmer until tender, about 1 hour, skimming as necessary. Remove the meat, discard the vegetables and strain the stock. Continue to boil the stock until it's reduced to about 2 quarts. Remove enough of the stock to have enough liquid to make rice, and cook the rice in the pork stock. Reserve the leftover pork stock, at least 1 pint.

Cook the bacon until crisp, remove it and use it to snack on while you're making the rest of the boudin. Add the onions, green onion bottoms and garlic to the drippings and sauté for a few minutes until the onions are translucent, then add the liver. Cook until the liver is tender. Add about 1/2 cup of pork stock to the pan, and cook for 10 more minutes, until much of the pork stock is reduced.

Put the pork, liver and vegetable mixture through a meat grinder with a coarse disc, or grind it coarse in a food processor. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and mix in the green onions bottoms, parsley, salt, peppers and cooked rice. Adjust seasonings. If it seems too dry, add a little bit more pork stock. It should be moist, but not runny.

For traditional boudin, stuff into sausage casings. Boudin links are generally about a foot long. You can also serve it out of the casing as a rice dressing.

Most gas stations have forsaken their crock pots and now heat boudin in the microwave, which does a good job but doesn't get the casing crispy. I don't like rubbery sausage casing, I like to eat it along with the sausage; when it's rubbery I tend to squeeze the boudin out and throw the casing away. Here's how I like to heat and serve boudin -- place in a 350°F oven for 10-15 minutes, until the boudin is heated through and the skin is crackly. Serve hot, with crackers and beer.

If you want to try a "fancy" boudin presentation, try something that Café des Amis in Breaux Bridge does for an appetizer: take two triangles of puff pastry, and place about 1/3 to 1/2 cup boudin (outside the casing) on one; seal it over with the other pastry triangle, making sure the edges don't leak. Brush the top with a little beaten egg and bake at 350°F until the pastry is puffed and golden brown. Drizzle with Steen's Louisiana cane syrup, some pepper jelly and a little Creole mustard, and garnish the plate with finely diced red, green and yellow bell peppers.  

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Chuck Taggart   (e-mail chuck)