road trip favorites: boudin balls

Boudin – /bü-ˈdan. n. A style of sausage popular along the Gulf Coast incorporating meat (commonly pork, gator, or seafood) and rice. Or the most delicious deep-fried, truck-stop vittles to be found south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

I spent this past summer watching it melt away in the rear view mirror of a Saturn Ion named Sandy. The girl and I racked up something approaching 100 hours in the car traveling across the country and back. I lost track of the number of miles and the gallons of gas. And the billboards, enormous swaths of peeling paint and splinters devoted to roadside attractions that no longer rank even among the world’s top 10 largest gophers.  But there is one sign I hope I never forget.

In the heart of Cajun country, off of interstate 10 somewhere between Baton Rouge and the Texas state line there is a sign that says, “Shrimp! Gator! Andouille! Boudin! Go left, then 2.5 miles!”  But to her, the most important thing was inferred: “Restroom!” Sign after sign eventually led us to a dingy little shop — part truck stop, part country store, part plate-lunch diner. As she hurried off to use the facilities, my life changed in an instant.

Fresh from the fryer, glistening under a heat lamp like tourists at Myrtle Beach in July, were perfectly formed spheres of Boudin sausage, battered and deep fried. Three for two dollars. The expression on her face changed from disgust that I would consider eating something made in that rickety old market, to disbelief as i implored her to try it, to elation as she came into the fold: a believer that there might not be anything better in the world than deep fried sausage.

The following recipe is my first attempt at recreating that moment of pure bliss.

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Ingredients:
4 stalks celery, rough chopped
1 large onion, rough chopped
2 green bell peppers, rough chopped
4 pounds pork shoulder (the fattier the better), 1 inch cubes
1 cup chicken livers
5 cloves garlic, whole
1 jalapeno, medium diced
2 cups long grain rice, cooked and cooled
2 tbsp oregano
2 tbsp cajun seasoning
salt and pepper to taste

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1. Combine the first 7 ingredients in a stock pot with enough water to cover.
2. Simmer for 2.5 hours.
3. Drain the mixture and reserve the liquid for later

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Grind the mixture using a coarse 3/8″ die that has been sitting in the back of the cupboard since Christmas.
(edited by hanna: a die is that stick he’s pushing the meat & veggies through the grinder with. i think.)

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Add oregano, cajun seasoning, rice, and S&P.

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Using the reserved  liquid if necessary, form the sausage into golf ball sized spheres.  Bread using seasoned flour, egg wash, and panko (in retrospect, the boudin balls we had in La. were battered not breaded…but this will work).

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Deep fry at 325 degrees until golden brown. Make sure the grease doesn’t cool down.

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Serve with remoulade and pretend you’re on your way to NOLA.

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