Boudin (pronounced Boo-dan) is a rice-based sausage that comes from the blending of Cajun, German and Creole culinary traditions. And because Cajun is a slang evolution of the word Acadians (French Canadians), one can trace its history back to Canada by way of France.
My first taste of Boudin was at Hackett’s Cajun Kitchen on Gerstner Memorial Boulevard in Lake Charles, Louisiana. It’s a simple little shack and the most unlikely place to inspire anyone to stand in line for hours, but the people of Lake Charles, Louisiana do. They all come looking for boudin made fresh every morning by Hackett’s Boudin Masters.
White rice is a major crop crop in Southwest Louisiana and they only use Louisiana rice to make boudin. The cooked rice is mixed with parsley, diced meat (could be pork, any type of seafood, alligator and even liver). To this they add the Cajun Trilogy (diced white onions, green bell peppers and celery) and a very special blend of spices.
Like a winemaker crafting fine wines in his own distinctive style, so does each boudin master design his own special blend of spices for his own signature flavour. No two boudin masters make a similar tasting boudin.
Because the ingredients are cooked before it’s stuffed into casings, Boudin is immediately ready to eat. You can eat Boudin on the run, in the car or as a snack; it’s Southwest Louisiana’s favourite finger food. But if you eat it at the beach, you must squeeze the insides into your mouth with your teeth and throw the casings to the birds – just another boudin tradition.
I tried Hackett’s Shrimp Boudin. It was light, silky and buttery with the sweet flavour of shrimp in every bite. The ultra delicate insides squeezed out of the casings with every bite so instead of fighting with it, I reverted to using a fork and not my fingers. Obviously I’m a novice boudin eater, but this is so delicious I can’t wait to get better at it!
All boudin shops have a smokehouse in the back where they smoke boudin over oak, hickory or pecan wood. At Hackett’s you’ll find both fresh and smoked boudin in seven flavours that range from plain or simple shrimp to the more complicated crawfish jalapeno, alligator and spicy smoked.
I tried with the Spicy Smoked. This one was rich and robust with mouthwatering savoury flavours that filled my mouth and travelled right down to my toes! Oh yum, the heated spiciness lingered long after the boudin was swallowed. This is an amazing flavour experience.
As good as the first two flavours of boudin were, if you ever get to Hackett’s, I highly recommend the Smoked Jalapeno Boudin. OMG, it’s spicy, savoury, peppery and uber-delicious – my favourite by far!
While the origins of boudin are a combination of many cultures, today, Boudin is 100% Louisiana and everyone who tries it falls madly in love with boudin – me too! I lined up at Hackett’s with the natives of Lake Charles because if you don’t you’ll miss out. It’s made fresh every day and usually sold out by 3 in the afternoon – a crime to miss it.
I’m from Niagara and we have tender fruit and wine, in Southwest Louisiana they have boudin. Check out the Southwest Louisiana Boudin Trail, pick a few boudin shops and go crazy. You’ll love it too!