The Sausage Saga, part 7: Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité (et Le Boudin).


French boudin.
The world of the French deli, or charcuterie, is le monde extraordinaire! It includes hams, various forms of sausages (including boudin, andouille etc), dry saucissons, salami, pâtés, etc. All three of the German-defined types of sausage are found in French cuisine: Brühwurst, Kochwurst and Rohwurst.

Among Rohwursts would be all of the saucisson sec products (small dry sausages). Under kochwurst fall all of the boudins (both black and white). Brühwurst .....

French boudin.
Boudin are a wide variety of sausages made mainly from pork but also from beef, veal or poultry, a wide variety of additives and spices, stuffed into pork-intestine casing and cooked. The two main varieties of boudin are black boudin (boudin noir) and white boudin (boudin blanc). There are many varieties of both black and white boudin made with cabbage, leeks, raisins, nuts, truffles, porcini or morels.

Black boudin (boudin noir).
Black boudin (boudin noir) may date as far back as ancient Greece, being referenced in Homer's Odyssey. It is also mentioned in the "De re coquinaria d’Apicius", a collection of recipes written in ancient Rome in the 4th century AD. During the Middle Ages, black boudin was a favorite meal served in French taverns.

It is a blood sausage equivalent to the German Blutwurst or to the Czech jelito. Beside France, boudin noir is eaten in other francophone countries i.e. Switzerland and Belgium. It also exists in Britain where it is called black pudding, and eaten as part of the traditional English breakfast. It is eaten in Italy as "sanguinaccio", in Germany as Blutwurst, in Luxembourg as Träipen, and as "krovianka" in Russia.
Boudin à la viande
from southwestern France.
German Blutwurst.Czech dark tlačenka.

The basic ingredients of boudin noir are a ground mixture (Brät) made from various parts of the pig, pig blood and pig fat, stuffed into pork-intestine casing. Additional ingredients may include Additional ingredients can include stale bread, onions, peppers, apples, chestnuts, raisins, or oats (in English black pudding). Like the Czech jelito, boudin noir is a typical product of a domestic slaughter. During domestic slaughter, blood would always be collected to make black pudding, jelito or boudin noir. In the preparation of boudin noir, it is mixed with one tenth of the volume of vinegar, slowly cooked and stirred with a wooden spoon so that it remains fluid. It is then mixed with the ground pork meat and fat, and stuffed into pork-intestine casings. Individual sausages 10-15 cm long may be made, or it is sold by length. The sausage is then rapidly cooked in boiling water. Regional variations include:

  • Onion boudin (Boudin de Paris) made of 1/3 blood, 1/3 fat, 1/3 cooked onions, the only boudin that uses the ingredients equally
  • Boudin Saint-Romain - a culinary specialty of Saint-Romain-de-Colbosc in Normandy made of 60% of blood, 30% raw onion and 10% cream.
  • Boudin Valdôtain - a regional specialty from the Aosta Valley on the border between Italy, France and Switzerland, made from pig or cow blood, boiled potatoes, beetroot, bacon, and spices including cinnamon, nutmeg, sage, rosemary, juniper berries, garlic, salt, pepper - and red wine.
  • Boudin à la viande - specialty of southwestern France, composed of 30-50% blood, the head of the pig, rinds and the tongue or heart are cooked in broth for several hours before being cut into small pieces and mixed with blood. After stuffing into casings, it is simmered at very low heat.
Boudin noir a l'oignon.Boudin de Saint-Romain.
Boudin à la viande.Träipen, boudin from Luxembourg.

White boudin (boudin blanc).
White boudin (boudin blanc) is a more recent development in that it has existed in its current form only since the 17th century. It is a white pork sausage without the blood. It consists of Brät made from 70% lean pork and 30% fat, eggs, milk, and shallots, seasoned with salt and pepper, stuffed into pork-intestine casing. All of the ingredients are put throug the cutter a smooth mixture is made. The meat, previously seasoned with salt and pepper, and the shallots come first, then the eggs are added. The whole mixture is ground to obtain a fine grain. At that point, the milk is incorporated. The resulting mixture is stuffed into pork-intestine casing, and boiled in unsalted water at 90° c for 20 minutes. As the last step, the sausages arequickly immersed in cold water in order to keep them nice and white. This preparation conforms to the German definition of Kochwurst.

Variants of boudin blanc exist in French, Belgian, German, Cajun and Catalan cuisine. It is a culinary specialty, for instance, in the cities of Liège in Belgium, and Rethel and Essay in France. In France, the following boudin varieties exist:

  • Boudin blanc Catalan containing eggs, from the eastern Pyrénées
  • Boudin blanc Havre, a fatty pork sausage made with milk, eggs, bread crumbs and flour.
  • Boudin with truffles, boudin blanc with black truffles (Périgord truffle or tuber brumale) with a precisely defined percentage, popular during the Christmas season
  • "Malsat", from southwestern France (short sausages in cow-intestine casing)
  • Boudin à la Richelieu made of poultry
  • Boudin blanc de Rethel made exclusively from pork meat, fresh whole eggs and milk, without any bread crumbs or starches
  • La bougnette de Castres made with eggs
  • Le coudenou de Mazamet
Boudin de Rethel.White boudin with truffles.

Boudin Créole.
Beyond Europe, in the French Caribbean (i.e. the French overseas departments of Martinique and Guadeloupe), it is known as boudin Créole. This is a short sausage, about 12 cm long, and completely black. It is made of pig blood, pork fat, stale bread, milk and scallions, seasoned with salt, chopped chile peppers, dried red chile powder, thyme, lemon, bay leaves and rum. Unlike European boudin, this one is fairly spicy.

Nouvelle France: the French colonial expire
in North America. Click to enlarge.
In the United States, boudin is inseparably associated with former French colony of Nouvelle France, the vast colonial empire France held in North America between 1534 and 1763. At its peak, Nouvelle France was nearly as large as the lower 48 states of the U.S.! France was the undisputed colonial superpower in North America at that time.

In Louisiana, boudins are the local staple throughout the "Cajun Country", the area settled in the second half of the 18th century by French-speaking refugees from present-day Canada, expelled by the British when Nouvelle France was dismantled at the end of the Seven Year War in 1763. Toay, "Cajun Country" refers to the south of the state of Louisiana, with towns and cities bearing mostly French names like Abbeville, Broussard, Jeanerette, Lafayette, Opelousas, Plaquemine, St. Gabriel, St. Martinville, Ville Platte and Thibodaux.

Pan-fried Cajun boudin.

Alligator boudin.
When someone says "boudin" in Louisiana, they boudin blanc. Boudin blanc is the staple boudin of this region and is the one most widely consumed. The signature mark of the Cajun boudin is the use of rice. The meat is pork, possibly mixed with beef, but rice is always in it. This being Louisiana, it is fairly spicy. There is of course also crawhish boudin, shimp boudin, even alligator boudin! One of the Louisiana varieties is also boudin rouge, a sausage similar to boudin blanc but with pork blood added to it. This originated from the French boudin noir.

A boudin closer to the original French boudin noir is made in Illinois. The present-day state of Illinois lies far north from the Cajun Country and has historically nothing to do with it. The boudin noir from Illinois would therefore not he a Cajun boudin, as the Cajun population is limited to the coastal regions of southern Louisiana, but must stem from the original French settlers who came to Nouvelle France from Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries.



Another main family of French sausages are the Andouille sausages. The andouilles are a diverse bunch, reflecting numerous local traditions. The traditional French andouille is composed primarily of the intestines and stomach: the large intestine (40%), small intestine (about 43%), stomach (17%) without adding fat or binders. It is seasoned with salt, pepper, spices and herbs. Andouille sausage is often made in the form of an irregular cylinder 25-30 cm long, with a diameter of 4-6 cm , rounded at the ends. The string is left longer at one end, so that the sausage can hang. Many varieties exist in France, based on location and method of manufacturing. The best known are:

  • Andouille Jargeau (60% pork meat, 40% guts)
  • Andouille the Val-d'Ajol
  • Andouille de Vire
  • Andouille rustic
  • Andouille Guémené
  • Andouille Charlieu
  • Andouille Couvin
  • Andouille Baye

The word "andouille" in French is an insult, meaning a stupid person....

Andouille sausage should not be confused with andouillette, which is a very coarse sausage (if it can be called a sausage), made with pork, or occasionally veal, intestines or chitterlings, pepper, wine, onions, and seasonings. Tripe is sometimes used. It has its devotees, but we will tactfully steer clear of it in this essay...

Cajun Andouille sausage.
In the United States, the andouille sausage exists in southern Lousiana, in the Cajun country. Cajun Andouille is a coarse-grained, smoked sausage made from chunks of pork, garlic, pepper, onions, wine, and seasonings. Once the casing is stuffed, the sausage is smoked again.

Cajun andouille sausage is an essential ingredient of the Louisiana gumbo soup.



French saucisson sec.
The third important faily of French sausages are the saucissons sec. Saucisson sec is a variety of thick, dry-cured sausage, a Rohwurst in theGerman terminology. They are typically made of pork, or a mixture of pork and other meats. As fermented Rohwursts, saucissons fall into the same cateory or wurst as Italian salami or the various forms of summer sausage, such as the Spanish salchichón and chorizo.

There are saucisson recipes dating from Roman times, and Gaulish recipes for dried pork. The word saucisson first appeared in France in 1546 in the Tiers Livre of Rabelais.

The stuffing of a French saucisson is the most wonderful part. The meat mixture consists of 2/3 to 3/4 lean meat, with the rest being fat. The mixture is ground to different degree of grain fine-ness, depending on the type of saucisson and mixed with salt, sugar, spices, nitrites and/or saltpeter, and with fermenting bacteria. But the best part is what comes next: some saucissons also contain things like whole peppercorns, garlic, bits of dried fruits, nuts such as pistachios, figs, olives, cheeses such as Roquefort, Laguiole, or alcohols such as wines and liquor. Where the German bratwurst is the king of the grilling sausage, the French saucisson sec generally ranks at the very top of the condiment pyramid. Sliced saucisson sec makes an unforgettable nibble-snack to go with wine.

Rosette de Lyon, sliced thick.
The first saucisson that comes to mind is the Rosette de Lyon from the Rhone Valley in southeastern France. It is a Rohwurst, thick, in a white, moldy casing, tied together with a string, which, upon slicing, produces the characteristic star shape. It is made pork leg, seasoned with pink peppercorns & wine, slow-cured aged for a mellow flavor.

Saucisson de Lacaune.
Saucisson (des Monts) de Lacaune comes from the Massif Central in south-central France. It is another Rohwurst, named after the city of Lacaune and the mountains around it. Massif Central is a hilly part of France, geologically related to the Jura and the Vosges moutains, but also to the Bohemian Massif in the Czech Republic and to the Appalachinan Moutains in the eastern United States. Not surprisingly, because these mountains are quite old (several hundred million years, they are more gently rolling hills, completely unlike the Apls to the East, which are much younger and still growing. The sausage is thin and dark red red.

Saucisson d'Ardenne.
Saucisson d'Ardenne is a medium-size sausage from the Ardennes region of Belgium. It is composed of a mixture of pork, or pork and beef, and pork fat. This meat is minced, salted and spiced, and the mixture is stuffed into casings of various sizes and shapes. After that, the sausages are fermented during which time most of the flavor and color develop. At the end, they are slowly smoked over oak and beech wood, common species in the forests of Ardennes, and allowed to dry for a few days.

Jesus de Lyon.
Jesus de Lyon is another Rohwurst, made of pork and pork fat, salt and spices, in natural pork casing. It is a traditional dry sausage. It is wrapped in a net, which gives it the characteristic imprint and distinctive pear shape.

Saucisson d'Arles from Provence.
Saucisson d'Arles is an example of a Rohwurst from Provence. It is a mixture of lean meat donkey meat, pork and beef, pork fat, salt and various spices. It is short and medium thick, 15-20 cm long and a diameter 4-5 cm. It is pink-gray, and weighs about 300 grams. It dates back to 1655 a butcher named Godart introduced it in Arles from Bologna. At present, there are only two butchers who continue this tradition.

Saucisson à l'ail (garlick sausage).
Next come two Brühwursts. Saucisson à l'ail (garlick sausage) is a Brühwurst, the same as Kiełbasa szynkowa in Poland. It is made of finely ground pork, seasoned with a preparation containing egg white, salt, pepper, spices and chopped fresh garlic that gives it its name.

The saucisson de Lyon is a big sausage with a smooth texture. Outside of France, it is known as Lyoner in Austria and Germany and comes with additives such as pieces of pickled red pepper. In Germany or in the Czech Republic, it is usually eaten thinly sliced as a cold condiment or on a sandwich, but in France it can be seen served sliced thick and boiled with potatoes or with peas.

And now a few more delicious Rohwursts:

  • Saucisson aux noisettes (Sausage with hazelnuts): 10% whole hazelnuts, 85% pork, 5% pork fat, natural pork-intestine casing.
  • Saucisson aux pistaches (sausage with pistachios)
  • Saucisson au beaufort: 85% pork, 10% pork fat, 56% Beaufort cheese. Beaufort cheese is a firm cheese made from raw cow milk, associated with the gruyère family. It is a cheese from the Alps, produced in Beaufort in the Savoie region of the French Alps.
  • Saucisson au poivre (sausage crusted in ground peppercorns): 85% pork, 15% pork fat, natural pork-intestine casing.
  • Saucisson au herbes (sausage crusted in herbs): 85% pork, 15% pork fat, natural pork-intestine casing.
  • Saucisson aux noix (sausage with walnuts): 7% whole hazelnuts, 85% pork, 8% pork fat, natural pork-intestine casing.







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