Andouille Sausage: Your Guide to This Legendary Link

Long associated with Creole and Cajun cuisine, Andouille sausage is one of the most popular meat products in the south, and yet it mystifies even some locals to an extent. “The sausage you put in a gumbo” would be an acceptable definition for most; but what exactly makes Andouille so different from other kinds of smoked sausage? What makes it the quintessential ingredient for gumbos both Cajun and Creole? How did it come to hold this special place in the hearts of Louisiana residents and visitors alike?

The Root of All Flavor

Considering the origins of the Cajun and Creole peoples, not to mention the name itself; it would surprise few people to learn that Andouille originated in France. What the French consider Andouille, however; would be virtually unrecognizable to fans of the specialty sausage in the American south. Grayish-white in color and made primarily from pork chitterlings, onions, tripe and wine: classic French andouille originally hails from the Northwestern regions of France—namely, Brittany and Normandy. Not only would this aromatic (and often expensive) French sausage be a strange sight to your average Cajun, it would be wasted in a Gumbo. The Andouille that we know and love is an entirely different culinary creation.

The Missing Link

By the time the concept of Andouille had traveled across the ocean, down the river and westward into what we now know as Cajun Country, it had gone through some great changes. From aromatic, grayish-white and slender to spicy, brown and wide: Cajun Andouille had made its transformation into the sausage that’s become a mainstay in kitchens across the South. Concurrently, a traditional West African dish had been growing in popularity throughout Louisiana due to its rich flavor, filling nature, and relatively low expense: gumbo. Despite its African origins, the melting pot of the Missisissippi delta led to multiple cultures helping to shape this dish: the European settlers were the first to start thickening Gumbo with roux (it had previously been done with Okra), Native Americans were the first to introduce filé, and so on. The Cajun contribution was Andouille sausage—now considered both a staple and an essential ingredient in Creole and Cajun gumbo alike.

Taste the Difference

So what was it that the Cajuns changed to make Andouille their own? The differences are so plentiful that one can’t help but wonder why they even share a name! Firstly, French Andouille is often filled with offal (organ meats) such as tripe, as it was largely invented to make use of the leftover parts of the pig. Cajuns, however, used the shoulder cut (also known as the butt) of the pig to fill their Andouille which made it leaner and removed the strong iron flavor that is often associated with offal. Secondly, the Cajuns changed the spices to complement the different cuts of pork being used: instead of the French combination of onions and wine, they used a combination of seasonings, peppers, onions and garlic that have long been associated with Cajun cuisine, giving the sausages a more spicy quality than its aromatic counterpart. Finally, Cajun Andouille is smoked twice, giving it an extra smoky flavor on top of the spice.

Andouille and Smoked Sausage

At this point, it wouldn’t be absurd to ponder why the Cajun variety of this iconic sausage is even named Andouille in the first place if it differs so significantly from its French namesake. However, there is one attribute that they share—and it’s the same attribute that sets Andouille apart from other Cajun and Creole smoked sausages. While most smoked sausages are hog casings stuffed with finely ground meats, Andouille is instead stuffed with a combination of coarse ground pork and chunks of seasoned and smoked pork shoulder. In fact, when one cuts open an Andouille sausage, chunks of pork should be visible within the mix! As a result of this hearty filling, many popular Andouille sausages aren’t twisted and linked in the manner of a classic sausage; but are instead simply cut into link-sized portions.

Just because smoked sausage and andouille are different doesn’t mean you need to choose just one! In a dish or on their own, the two sausages go deliciously together—and you don’t need to take our word for it! We’ve got homemade smoked sausage, green onion sausage, jalapeno sausage AND jalapeno cheese sausage; with each one making a perfect companion to andouille sausage in any dish.

The Best Cajun Sausage?

As a pork-living region populated with pork-loving people, it’s no surprise that there is a wide variety of sausages to choose from—but Andouille holds a special place in the hearts of Cajuns and Creoles alike. From Gumbo to red beans, there are few dishes that can’t be enhanced by a good Andouille. Even on its own, it makes a special savory snack that’s appropriate any time of the day. However: one must beware of impostors! For real, authentic Cajun Andouille, one should look for the ‘certified Cajun’ logo or at least check that the Andouille in question was produced in South Louisiana lest they accidentally purchase a pale, bland imitation. At Billy’s Boudin and Cracklins, we carry Baudin’s Andouille from St. Martinville, LA in the heart of Acadiana—it’s as authentic as it comes! Swing by one of our four locations (or order it online) so you can taste for yourself what makes it so special!

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