Ever since devouring the Southern Foodways Alliance's excellent oral history of Louisiana's Boudin Trail, I've been champing at the bit to get me some. So when my pal Pableaux Johnson invited me on a culinary tour that included a swing through boudin country, I was on board quicker than you boil a batch of crawfish.
This spicy sausage is like so many regional specialties, rarely making appearances outside the area in which it's such a big deal. I don't get that because boudin is one of the most ridiculously delicious sausages around, a mix of pork parts, rice, and assertive seasonings. It's most often found at country stores, though our first taste of incredible boudin was in New Orleans at Stephen Stryjewski and Donald Link's flat-out fantastic Cochon.
Our seemingly insatiable group went the one-of-everything route and ate every dang bite of the spectacular spread, especially the boudin balls. These golden orbs are like a meaty croquette, crisp on the outside, tender within.
The boudin balls made such a big impression that we ordered another round the next night while at Prejeans in Lafayette, a vast dining room decorated in all manner of swamp paraphenalia. Yes, that's a 200-pound stuffed alligator gar fish mounted on the wall. Cochon: 930 Tchoupitoulas Street, New Orleans LA 70130 (map); 504-588-2123 cochonrestaurant.com
But the best was yet to come—and by best I mean Best Stop in Scott, Louisiana. It's a small store that specializes in big flavors. (Don't forget to pick up some Swamp Dust seasonings while you're there.) The boudin at Best Stop was the perfect communion of meat, starch, and spice, relished on top of saltines during a parking lot picnic, a grease-stained bag of wicked good cracklin's on the side. Best Stop Supermarket: 615 Highway 93 N, Scott LA 70583 (map); 337-233-5805; thebeststopsupermarket.com
If we weren't in such a hurry to get back for more fine food in New Orleans (drinks and appetizers at Ralph's on the Park and dinner at Brigtsen's), it would have been instructive to pull into nearby Don's Meats and compare the two. Both Don's and Best Stop boast theirs is the best boudin around. Guess that sausage smackdown will just have to wait until the next trip. I will definitely hit the Boudin Trail again.
About the author: Leslie Kelly was the restaurant critic at The Seattle Post-Intelligencer until the newspaper folded earlier this year. Since then, she's been working as a cook in restaurants around the city and writing regular reports on her journey from pen to pan in Critic-Turned-Cook posts for Serious Eats. She also blogs at LeslieKellyWhiningandDining.blogspot.com.