Cajun Boudin – What, Where, How
Cajun boudin is one of my all time favorite comfort foods. For those not in the know, Cajun boudin is a type of sausage traditionally made from a mixture of pork, rice and seasonings. Its origin and history date back two centuries or more to the Acadians who migrated to Louisiana from France and, later, from Nova Scotia. Though related, Cajun boudin differs greatly from the French boudin blanc and boudin noir.
Today, other non-traditional ingredients such as crawfish, shrimp, chicken and even alligator are sometimes used as a basis in Cajun boudin. Proportions vary significantly as do taste, texture and degree of spiciness. Generally, there are two types of traditional Cajun boudin – white and red (or blood). The red uses essentially the same basic recipe as the white, but incorporates fresh pork blood into the mix. The red version was, in fact, the original Cajun boudin, most prevalent long ago when families traditionally raised and butchered their own hogs.
Cajun boudin is not readily found outside of Louisiana, its home state. Red boudin is all but non-existent, save for a very few sources. I have enjoyed great success and satisfaction over the past 10+ years ordering and receiving boudin from various sources in Louisiana. At first, it was purely by hunt and peck. During the last 5 years or so, my efforts have been greatly aided by the advent of the following websites:
I prefer obtaining my boudin directly from the source, not through intermediaries such as Cajun Grocer, Cajun Supermarket or Louisiana Living. I want it as fresh made as possible. Very few Cajun boudin makers ship their product. Two sources that make a very fine fresh product and who will ship it directly to you at a very reasonable cost are Bourque’s in Port Barre and Poche’s in Breaux Bridge:
If you want to try a specific maker’s boudin or branch out and try a variety of boudin, the UPS Store in Lafayette, Louisiana at (337) 232-2442, will go to the source(s) and procure your boudin for you. They will competently pack it in dry ice inside a nice new, reusable Styrofoam container and ship it to you the very same day for overnight or 2nd day delivery. I have used their services many times with complete satisfaction – somewhat expensive, but worth every penny to me.
The UPS Store performs this service regularly for its customers. Being in Lafayette, often touted as the Cajun boudin capital of the world, they are close to quite a few makers of excellent boudin including Billeaud’s, Chop’s, JD’s, Johnson’s, NuNu’s and Tiny Prudhomme’s among others (see www.boudinlink.com for source info). I have typically had The UPS Store procure two or three different boudins for each shipment. I buy about 40 pounds per year in a single shipment for about $300, usually sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I usually get a few pounds of hog’s head cheese as well (another whole delicious topic).
The very best commercial boudin I have had (both red and white) is made by the Babineaux brothers, Larry and Rodney at:
Babineaux’s Slaughter House & Meat Market
1019 Babineaux Road
Breaux Bridge, LA 70517
(337) 332-1961 (ask for Larry)
Babineaux’s boudin is made from fresh-slaughtered hogs. The batches that I have bought came from a single hog. Less than a week transpired between the time the hog was slaughtered and the day the boudin arrived at my doorstep. The taste of their boudin is different than that made from processed pork and will vary some depending upon the age, sex and diet of the donor hog. Moreover, Babineaux’s boudin recipe follows age-old traditions and uses the various parts of the hog, including the head (temple, jowl), belly and liver, not just the butt or shoulder as many other current day makers’ recipes do. This results in a very complex, deep, richly flavored umami unfamiliar to many people. Theirs is real, old school boudin as it was meant to be.
After reading and listening to his oral history on The Southern Boudin Trail and seeing his product pictured on The Boudin Link, John Saucier’s boudin remains on my wish list to try. Unfortunately, even The UPS Store doesn’t want to venture that far into the backcountry to procure it for me. Damn! That stuff must really be good. Well, I just may have to trek down there one day and get it myself.
Saucier’s Sausage Kitchen
2064 Saucier Rd.
Mamou, LA 70554
Here’s a link to an article showcasing boudin by both Mr. Saucier and the Babineaux brothers:
A final word. All of the fresh Louisiana boudin that I have purchased was already fully cooked, vacuum-sealed and frozen before shipment. It arrived frozen after overnight delivery or mostly frozen after 2nd day delivery. I have kept both red and white boudin in my freezer for a year or more with little, if any, notable deterioration in quality.
Please share any experiences or insights you may have regarding Cajun boudin, a most unique and delicious comfort food. I just finished a link of Bourque’s for breakfast. Yum!
re: Niki in Dayton
Glad you enjoyed my overview. Boudin, although time-consuming, is generally not difficult to make. However making great boudin is a bit more of a challenge. It requires the use of fresh pork from various parts of the hog in proper proportions with or without the addition of fresh, and I mean FRESH blood. Personally, I have yet to attempt making my own.
If you really want to learn more about how boudin is made, the best way is to talk to as many makers as you can. Or, you can visit the Southern Foodways Alliance’s (SFA) Southern Boudin Trail website at:
SFA members have interviewed a number of boudin makers and savants. Navigate through their Oral Histories link and read each (edited) interview. To get the full scoop, download the entire, unedited transcript in PDF format for each of the interviews. You will be amazed at the wealth of information, history and trivia collected and provided. There are a number of great video clips as well.
A good basic boudin recipe along with a recipe for boudin-stuffed green peppers can be found here:
I have enjoyed success with using boudin (removed from its casing) as a stuffing in duck, rabbit and pork tenderloin. I also created a recipe of my own:
Deep-Fried Boudin Eggs:
Breading (either cornflower, breadcrumbs, crushed crackers or panko)
Peanut, safflower or olive oil (EVOO)
Seasonings (optional - a little salt, pepper and basil and/or thyme work well together)
1. Boil and peel however many eggs you wish to make.
2. Remove enough boudin from its casing to cover all of your eggs and form it into patties.
3. Set-up a bowl with the breading of your choice, lightly seasoned to your taste.
4. Set-up another bowl as an egg wash of whisked whole eggs with a dash of milk or water.
5. Take a patty of boudin and gently form a shell completely around each boiled egg.
6. Dip the covered egg into the egg wash and then roll it in the breading of your choice.
7. Deep-fry in peanut or olive oil at about 350 degrees until done, about 2 minutes or so.
8. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the eggs from the fryer to paper towels to drain and cool.
9. Cut into halves (if you wish) and enjoy.
Commercial boudin is sold already cooked. The eggs are already boiled. You only need to fry the boudin-covered eggs long enough to crisp them to a nice finished texture and color. Let your eyes be the judge.
Depending upon the consistency of your boudin, you may need to add some of your whisked egg mixture to it to enable it to form and bind around your eggs.
Seasonings are optional since boudin is usually already highly spiced and flavored. You be the judge.
About 15 years ago, when we lived in Houston, we used to drive to Lafayette at the idea of a good diinner and evening of Cajun dancing. It was only about a 2-hour drive - so we could go in the morning and come back in the evening - but usually had too much fun, and stayed overnight.
One extended weekend, we drove to every little mom & pop store in Southern Louisiana who were reported to make 'good' boudin - and we discovered that there was a LOT of difference in what people thought was 'good' boudin. Some of it had too much liver flavor - some too flat - almost all had some sort of 'kick' with red pepper - but it was hard to find a boudin with good balance. We finally found what we thought was THE BEST BOUDIN at the "Best Stop' in Scott, LA. It was a little mom/pop store - but the boudin was terrific. I think the butcher told me he used a 1:12 ratio of pork to pork liver. The result was just an edgy, earthy flavor - which combined beautifully with the rest of the seasonings - primarily salt, red/white/black pepper, and green onion. We used to get a couple of links of boudin - a small box of crackers - and a small squeeze bottle of mustard - and happily drive the back roads with our 'traveling picnic'. Squeeze out a good bite of boudin onto the cracker, top it with a dot of mustard - Poo-Yee, Cher! That's good! I have often wondered if the Best Stop is still in business. It was a family run store so I hope that it has been passed down to the next generation!
A 'rough recipe': One pound cooked pork liver, 12 pounds seasoned and slow-cooked pull-apart pork, ground, chopped green onions to taste, salt,peppers to taste, (red/wht/blk), and cooked rice. It is pretty basic. Mix well, then pipe into clean natural casings. (If they are salted, be sure to soak them overnight to remove the extra salt.) I had often thought to prepare it in mini loaf pans, covered with plastic wrap. However you 'package it', place it in a steamer and steam for an hour or so, to be sure that everything is well cooked. Boudin balls are just lumps of boudin, squeezed from the casing, then rolled in crumbs of some sort, and deep fried. Enjoy! BTW - there are other more specific recipes - Google for them. Linda G. ;D
UPDATE: NEW ALL-TIME FAVORITE CAJUN BOUDIN!
Via the wonders of the Internet, I recently stumbled upon what perhaps is the finest boudin of my entire life. Hence, this writing. It is the product of Stelly’s Supermarket in Lebeau, LA, a family enterprise that started in the 1920’s and still occupies its same original location. Their boudin recipe is rustic and remains steadfastly rooted in old school tradition. One bite is like a backwards trip in a Cajun time machine. To say that Stelly’s boudin is excellent would be an understatement. To say that it is the best would be virtually meaningless since Cajun wars have probably been fueled over who makes the best boudin.
Let me just say that Stelly’s Cajun boudin exudes a quality and character that epitomizes a true labor of love. Made from fresh pork from select parts of the hog, it possesses a savory richness and uniqueness of flavor heretofore unfound by yours truly. Joel Stelly, the owner and one of the most gracious gentlemen you’ll ever know, attributes his product’s singular character to the inclusion of pork skin in the mix. What’s more, these are substantial links, made up of about 60% meat and 40% Louisiana rice, most likely from Crowley, an area known for its superior rice crops. Parsley, bell pepper, onion and a heady, well-balanced seasoning blend impart a solid kick to the taste buds that penetrates and heats yet does not overwhelm and desensitize.
A hot link of Stelly’s boudin is an impressive sight, notably plumper than most and slightly darker in color due to the predominance of meat and its resultant internal gravy. The aroma is absolutely wonderful, redolent of spicy pork. The casing, through which bits of green and flecks of spices can be seen, is of medium thickness and produces a crisp snap to the bite when grilled. Steaming yields a casing that will snap but is best served by the straw method of boudin extraction, my favorite way. The very best of the hog can be seen trapped inside, ready to escape into your waiting mouth. The texture of the filling itself is somewhat dense and neither dry nor mushy. There is plenty of toothsome chew in the lean and shredded parts complimented by the presence of a few deliciously fatty and crunchy bits. Its got it all goin’ on inside. The flavor is deep, complex and very gratifying. Indeed, the perfect link. Did I say “best”?
Hmmh … time for another one of Stelly’s stellar links …
Yum, Boy (and Girl)! (^_^)
Stop by Stelly’s in Lebeau on Hwy 71 just off Interstate 10 or give Joel Stelly a call. He can arrange to have some shipped right to your door.
8611 Highway 71
Lebeau, LA 71345
The Mamou boudin is the BEST. My family is Cajun, I grew up eating the stuff. Maybe you can convince the UPS store to go to Mamou on Saturday morning, when there's dancing at Fred's Lounge. People come from all over the region, and it's a lot of fun. The party starts at breakfast, with BOUDIN, and lasts till about 3pm, with everyone in the place smashed and wild. It's worth the trip if you're anywhere near there. I've heard a lot of foreign accents in the place.