A Great Question Leads to this Post
A Welsh ex-pat friend of mine came to town recently, wanting to learn how to make English Bangers. Unfortunately, he lives in Colorado, so the chances of finding authentic English Bangers are pretty slim. However, being relatively new to the US and eager to try new things, he asked if we could also make some unique regional sausages found across the country. I thought this was a great idea, so I’m documenting these for you to try.
After exploring regions, we decided on Cajun Boudin. Being from Houston, I am very familiar with Cajun Boudin-The best being Boudin Blanc prepared every Sunday at Sing-On Supermarket in the Fifth Ward in Houston. Early Sunday mornings, a line would form, and if you didn’t get there by the time church let out (11:00 a.m.), you were out of luck.
What is Traditional Cajun Boudin Blanc?
Boudin Blanc is a mixture of rice, chicken or pork livers, and ground pork with loads of herbs and seasonings. It is something I would crave if too many Sundays went by without a couple of links. Traditionally, you can eat the Boudin by biting or slicing off one end of the sausage and squeezing the contents onto a saltine cracker or french bread. Although the casings are edible, most people eat the Boudin steamed, making the casings a little chewy. Some people like to get around this by carefully sautéing them over medium heat to crisp up the casings so they are easier to eat. Either way, it’s delicious. Topping it off with a few shots of Crystal hot sauce, Creole mustard, or New York Deli-Style Mustard and washing it down with an ice-cold lager is a match made in Cajun heaven.
Special Equipment Needed
To make sausage, you will need a meat grinder sausage stuffer combo.
Authentic Cajun Boudin
- sausage grinder and stuffer
- chef knife
- cutting board
- measuring cups and spoons
- large mixing bowls
- medium mixing bowls
- rice cooker
- 2 ½ lbs pork, shoulder diced
- ½ lbs pork liver, rough chopped chicken or duck liver can be substituted
- 1 medium poblano pepper stemmed, seeded, and chopped
- 3 medium jalapeno pepper stemmed, seeded, and chopped
- 2 stalks celery, minced
- 1 medium white onion, minced
- 1 cup green onion, chopped small
- 1 cup parsley, chopped
- 6 clove garlic, minced
- 4 tbsp Kosher salt
- 1 tbsp black pepper
- 1 tsp granulated onion
- 1 tsp bay leaf, ground
- 1 tsp thyme, dried
- 1 tsp cayenne, ground
- 1 tsp white pepper, ground
- 1 tsp chili powder, ground
- ½ tsp Prague powder No 1, curing salt/pink salt
- 7 cups rice, cooked (cooked separately about 2 1/2 cups basmati rice to 4 1/4 cups water)
- 4-6 ft hog sausage casings natural or collagen
Prepare the Casings
- Open and remove the sausage casings from their packets and follow the directions. I soak mine in a large bowl of water with a plate set on top, to make sure they all stay under water. I will change the water and add fresh, once I start using them.
Prep the Pork
- Trim the pork shoulder of excess fat, if needed. See image above. This shoulder has the proper amount of fat still attached. Most do. If your pork shoulder is too lean you need to add pork fat or pork belly to compensate.
- Cut the pork shoulder into slices. To make this recipe, you will need close to half of the pork shoulder to make a batch.
- Cut the pork slices into strips. Then, cut the strips into cubes.
- Roughly cut up the pork/chicken livers and mix them in with the pork cubes.
Prep the Vegetables, Seasonings, add to Meat, and Marinate
- Cut up all the vegetables and measure out all the seasonings. Mix everything in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. Marinate for a minimum of 1 hour or overnight.
- Once the meat/vegetable filling has marinated, place it in a large pot and cover with 1 inch of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let cook for 1 hour and 45 minutes.
Prepare the Rice
- While the meat mixture is cooking, prepare the rice. I like to use Carolina Gold Rice, but any rice will do. The ratio for this recipe is 2 1/2 cups of rice to 4 1/4 cup of water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and let seep for 25 minutes. (Full disclosure, I add at least one bay leaf when cooking plain rice just to give it a little more oomph.)
- Measure out the 7 cups of cooked rice in a large mixing bowl. There might be a little more than 1 cup left-over for another use. Reserve
- Once the meat mixture is cooked, remove from the heat. Place a colander over the rice and pour the Boudin mixture into the colander to drain. The rice will look very wet at this point. It's supposed to.
- Take the meat/vegetable/rice mixture and run it through a grinder back into the rice with the juice.
Last Good Mix before Stuffing
- Mix all of the ground meat together with the rice thoroughly.
Set up the Sausage Stuffer
- Set up a sausage stuffer as seen in the images. Lightly oil the horn of the grinder and gently feed the cleaned, soaked sausage casings onto the horn. Add the meat mixture into the stuffer and feel for the sausage to come out of the horn with your thumb held over the end. Once you feel the sausage coming out stop the stuffer. Pull a length of the casing off and tie off a knot. Feed the excess casing back onto the horn until it is flush with meat/sausage coming out. Turn the stuffer back on.
- Feed the sausage mixture into the stuffer and help the sausage into the casings trying to keep as many air bubbles from forming as possible. Allow the sausage to feed out onto a clean large sheet pan with a little water added. The water will help keep the casing from drying out and form the links later.
- Coil the Boudin and watch for the end of the sausage casing. Stop the grinder once 3 or 4 inches of casings are left. Pull the excess off, but don't tie it off yet. Start another sausage casing and proceed as before until all the mixture has made it into the casings.
- You can form individual links by measuring off the length you desire. Normally this would be the width of the palm of your hand or two palm lengths depending on how long you wish to make them.
- To make links, start at the tied of end and gently pinch the sausage to force some of it down the line. Once it is small enough, you can turn the link in one direction while twisting to make a link. Measure out the same amount and repeat the process EXCEPT this time turn the sausage in the OPPOSITE direction of the first. Repeat this process until all the sausage has been made into links. When you get to the other end of the sausage, tie it off and you are done. This is why you don't tie off the sausage when you remove it from the stuffer right away-it gives you the chance to move the sausage around as you need it. You can always cut off what you don't need.
- Once you have linked out all of your sausages to the desired size, it is essential to use a sausage pricker, ice pick, or toothpick to poke a few holes in the link. These tiny holes will allow excess steam to escape, so the Boudin does not burst when you cook them.
How to Cook Boudin
- Method 1- Microwave: Wrap one link in a wet paper towel or plastic wrap. Heat for 1 minute on high, or until, when squeezed, the Boudin becomes spongy.Method 2-Steam: Fill a pot with enough water to cover the Boudin. Heat on high until steam forms on the water surface. Lower heat and maintain temperature until the Boudin floats or becomes spongy. Remove from water and serve. (Allow moderate cooling before cutting.)Method 3-Smoking: Smoke in a smoker at (225°F or 107°C) for 3 hours on a well-oiled grate. Check often to make sure they do not burst.Method 4-Skillet: Place the Boudin in a skillet with a small amount of oil. Cook over medium heat until the casings have become crisp but have not burst. Let the Boudin cool slightly before slicing.
How to Eat Boudin
- The traditional way is to slice the Boudin in 2-3 inch portions and serve with Creole or Pommery style mustard, kosher pickles, Saltines or Captains Wafers, Crystal style hot sauce, and lots of ice-cold beer. Next, please pick up a portion of the sausage, dip it into the mustard and squeeze it into your mouth. The casing is edible but chewy due to the steaming process. Finally, many people press the link onto crackers and top with a shot or two of Crystal-style hot sauce.