Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Making Cajun Boudin Sausage

NEW IBERIA, LOUISIANA, USA -- One of the things I liked best about staying in Cajun Country is the way that folks shop for food. It's quite European in style, with visits to the bakery for bread and pastries, visits to the farmer's markets for produce, and visits to the boucheries for meats.

One of the stops on many a Cajun shopper's weekly list is Legnon's boucherie, known not only for its selection of quality meats, but also for its boudin and cracklins.

For the uninitiated, boudin is a sausage traditionally made from pork, pork liver, rice and spices; and cracklins are fried pork skins. Any self respecting foodie wanting to experience Cajun Country will want to try both.

A good place to obtain these Cajun delicacies is Legnon's in New Iberia.

Legnon's makes over 900 pounds a day of the traditional Cajun sausage and about 200 pounds a day of its nouvelle variation, Crayfish Boudin, made from -- you guessed it -- mud bugs. Both sausage varieties have a surprisingly mild flavor, as rice balances out the stronger flavors of pork (or crawfish) liberally seasoned with salt, cayenne pepper, parsley, and green onions.

Legnon's is also legendary for its cracklins. Before you turn up your nose at the thought of fried pork skins, let me state that Legnon's cracklins bear no resemblance to the packaged pork rinds you get at the supermarket. These are dark brown, ultra dense and crisp, have a flavor of crisply cooked bacon, and are completely addictive.

Ted Legnon (pictured right), owner of the family run enterprise, generously agreed to show us how they make Legnon's famous pork boudin. The most amazing thing about the experience to me -- boudin neophyte that I was -- was the speed of the sausage making process. While a lot of time goes into cooking the pork, once the ingredients are mixed together, Legnon's can produce 400 pounds of boudin in just 30 to 40 minutes!

Making Boudin Sausage

1. Before the sausage process can even begin, the pork is cooked for about 4 hours. It is then strained and sent through a meat grinder.

2. The juice from the meat is then mixed with cooked rice, then everything is mixed together.

3. Spices and seasonings are added to the mixture -- salt, cayenne, pepper, parsley, and green onions.

4. In preparation for the sausage making process, natural hog intestine casings are kept in water at the ready.

5. The end of the casing is fitted over the end of a machine. A foot control pumps the pork and rice mixture into the casing. Experienced employees like Angie Fontonette (pictured top of this post), who has worked for the Legnon's for years, know just when to pinch the casing to form the individual boudin links.

6. It all happens at lightning fast speed, mere seconds to fill a casing and tie off the ends. Angie can make about 400 pounds of boudin in about thirty minutes.

Visiting Legnon's Boucherie
You can find Legnon's Boucherie at 410 Jefferson Terrace in New Iberia, LA 70560. While they don't have a web site, you can call them at 337- 367-3831.

Travel Highlights of Cajun Country
Click here for our full feature on the Lafayette, Louisiana area. Explore the fascinating history of this area and the Acadian people as well as check out some great attractions and restaurants.

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