Cooking Louisiana  -  Sausage
Sausage is a signature food of almost every country and region of the world. We in South Louisiana have our own signature too but, as with our dishes, the sausage for the most part is a mixture of the cooking origins of the people.

Not only do we love sausages but, like many places, we make our own and of course, we add the Cajun Punch to it! Making sausage takes a little time but is a fun thing to do with the family. Hunting season brings a wealth of deer sausage to the table and believe me some of this stuff is so good you can use it in place of such favorites as andouille. I made an oyster and deer sausage dressing a while back and, let me tell you, none of it got cold in the ice box as leftovers! Chicken and sausage gumbo is a killer dish and everybody's favorite when it comes to heart warming home cooked food.

Chaurice (not chorizo) is a creole sausage and is popular in Gumbos.

Andouille is today a seasoned ham originating in France and used for seasoning vegetables, and other dishes. The original andouille was actually casings stuffed in a casing. I don't have a clue what that was used for. Andouille, tasso, boudin and others were products of a "charcuterie" (shar-coo-tur-ee), or, "cooker of meats" originating as far back as the 15th century. We hadn't invented the ice box yet so it was all preserved by smoking and salt preservation. At least that's what I figure.

Boudin could be considered a sausage I guess, and, is a big deal in Lafayette, LA. It's not unusual to have some boudin and fresh cracklins for breakfast! Boudin is basically a rice dressing made into sausage links. You can buy it cold and hot so when you're passing though South Louisiana always carry an ice chest and a roll of paper towels. When you stop at one of the meat markets you can get a couple of hot (cooked) links to eat with your french bread, and, you can throw a few pounds in the ice chest to bring home. Doing this will maintain your "hero" status! Check this out. The Boudin Link

If you want to make your own sausage you need a grinder, sausage stuffing attachment and casings. The nice thing about making it is you can not only have a party doing it, but you can make it often less than half the price of store bought. The internet if packed with sausage making information.

Store-bought smoked sausage is usually pre-cooked and ready to eat. This type is made with everything from pork to beef to turkey to chicken and variations of all of them. Grease content is a factor with smoked sausage as is flavor. I try to get to "know" a sausage, that is, I want to know its' flavor and grease content. I might use one type of sausage to barbecue and another to make a gumbo with because of grease and flavor. I then figure out what to do with it for the application.

Example 1: Let's say you have a sausage that has a great flavor but is really greasy and you want to use it in a gumbo. Simple, slice it up and in a separate pot boil the sausage in water for a few minutes to extract the grease.

Example 2: Suppose you have a sausage with a really great flavor but if you put it in a gumbo it overpowers the taste. Again boil it in water a few minutes to reduce to strength of the flavor but save the water in case you extracted too much flavor.

I think you see where I'm going with this...

Homemade or fresh sausage is often purchased at local groceries in South Louisiana. It's normally not pre-cooked as smoked sausage is, so, you must cook it. If you're going to use it in a dish you can either fry it on the side or just throw it in the pot of food you are cooking. Fresh sausage is made with fat of some sort and water. The water aids in cooking the sausage, and, gives it a moist final product. Keeping this in mind; cook fresh sausage until it's done, then if you must, pierce it to release the grease and immediately take if off the heat.