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Recipe: Boudin Chili and Cracklin Cornbread

Originally a meal associated strongly with Texas, chili and cornbread is a filling favorite for every occasion. From tailgating or hunting to just sitting at home, there are few times when chili and cornbread don’t hit the spot (some say it’s only for cool weather, but we disagree). As a tribute to this delicious pairing, we’ve decided to put our own Cajun spin on chili and cornbread by adding our two most famous ingredients: boudin and cracklins! (We wanted to call it Billy Chili but decided that might be too corny).

 

What you need for the chili: 

A big pot (cast iron is best but most types of pot will work)

~2 lbs loose boudin mix (you can use scissors or a knife to cut the casing open on your Billy’s boudin)

1 lb smoked boudin (sliced)

4 strips of bacon (chopped)

1 large onion (diced)

1 Green bell pepper (diced)

4 ribs of celery (chopped)

6 toes of garlic (minced or finely chopped)

Seasoning blend (to taste)

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Chili powder
  • Smoked paprika
  • Dried oregano
  • Cayenne pepper

2 cups red kidney beans (dry* or canned)

2 tablespoons Cajun Power garlic sauce

Louisiana Hot Sauce (to taste)

1 28 oz can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes

2 cups low-sodium beef broth

2 bay leaves

 

*if using dry red beans, be sure to soak them in warm water overnight in a big bowl so they will be tender!

 

How to make the chili:

 

  • Cook the bacon: throw your chopped bits of bacon into a medium-high preheated pan and cook them until they’re brown and crispy. You should now have some bacon fat at the bottom of the pan, too.
  • Add your vegetables and seasoning: in the same pan as the bacon, throw your garlic, onion, bell pepper and celery all in together and cook them down in the bacon fat. Add your seasoning blend now, too. It’s a good idea to go light on your seasoning, as you can always add more later!
  • Brown the boudin mix: once your vegetables start to brown, push them to the sides of the pot and throw your boudin mix in. As it starts to cook, stir it regularly.
  • Brown the smoked boudin: once your boudin mix is nearly finished browning, make some room for the smoked boudin as well—the crispier you can get it, the better!
  • Add the remaining ingredients and reduce the heat: add your tomatoes, beans, garlic sauce, hot sauce, beef broth and bay leaf. Let the mixture come to a boil (while stirring regularly) and then immediately bring the heat down to a medium-low simmer. Let it simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.
  • Finish seasoning and let it reduce: let a spoonful cool and give it a taste and add more seasoning and hot sauce until it tastes exactly how you like it! If you prefer your chili on the leaner side, you can take this opportunity to carefully skim the fat from the bacon and boudin off the top. After that, let it simmer on the stovetop uncovered another 20 minutes or until it achieves the desired thickness.
  • Let it cool and garnish it: once it’s cool, add your desired garnishes (green onions, sour cream, jalapenos, shredded cheese, etc) and enjoy!

 

Now it’s time to make the cracklin cornbread! Full disclosure, this is less of a recipe and more of a hack. Making good cornbread is easy, and adding cracklins to it isn’t exactly Cajun rocket science. We’ve included a handy cornbread recipe below, but there’s nothing wrong with a premade cornbread mix, either!

 

What you need for the cornbread: 

 

1 bread pan (or a muffin pan for corn muffins)

1 medium sized mixing bowl

~½ lb of Billy’s seasoned cracklins 

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup cornmeal (yellow)

⅔ cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

3.5 teaspoons of baking soda

⅓ cup unsalted butter (melted)

1 egg

1 cup whole milk

 

How to make the cornbread: 

 

  • Preheat the oven to 400 F
  • Grease your pan:  we suggest using butter for maximum flavor but cooking spray also works.
  • Pulverize your cracklins: one way to do this is to blitz them in a food processor, but if you don’t have one (or want to have a little more control over how small they are), you can put them in a ziplock bag and hit them with with a rolling pin or meat tenderizer until you achieve the desired consistency.
  • Mix your dry ingredients (minus the cracklins): toss the flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, and baking soda in the bowl and mix them all together with a spoon or whisk.
  • Add your wet ingredients and combine: make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add your egg, milk, and melted butter. Mix them well with a spoon or whisk. A mixer works well too—but it’s not a must!
  • Add the cracklins: add your pulverized cracklins to the mix and fold them carefully in, being careful not to break up the cracklins too much.
  • Bake: at 400 F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. You should be able to put a toothpick in the center and have it come out clean.
  • Serve: with the chili (or just on its own)! You can top it with salted butter, honey, creamed honey—or almost anything you like!

 

Bon Appetit!

 

As a good rule of thumb, almost any dish can be improved by substituting ground pork or beef with a healthy dose of Billy’s boudin! Billy’s salted cracklins, seasoned cracklins, and even pork skins are also rarely out of place in a recipe: they’re incredibly versatile and make a great garnish or even a carb-free breadcrumb substitute when pulverized finely enough!

 

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