Along the Boudin Beat
A rising star on the culinary scene is an old standby: boudin. Our beloved boudin – always a mainstay in Acadiana – has been garnering national attention. For instance, last summer the organizers of a major food festival in New York and Boston offered all-expenses paid trips in order to bring boudin to the East Coast; the renowned chef Daniel Boulud’s HD television show, After Hours with Daniel, highlighted boudin in New Orleans; Bizarre Foods with the Travel Channel’s affable Andrew Zimmern filmed a show that included sampling boudin from various Louisiana locations; and Dirty Jobs, the Discovery Channel’s show where Mike Rowe travels around looking for demanding careers, honed in on a regional boudin-maker. Likewise, travel writers from publications as varied as Trailer Life, Esquire and Australia’s Sunday Telegraph have identified our wonderful pork-and-rice sausage as a worthy subject for national and international readers alike. You can even get boudin at some of the nation’s most highly regarded restaurants, including Emeril’s, Commander’s Palace and Cochon – though none of it is as succulent as what you can get just down the road right here in Cajun Country.
So what is a person supposed to do? We all know boudin is delightful, so instead of haggling over who has the superior link, get out there and celebrate our delicious culture by seeking out some locations you might not usually try. The beautiful thing about exploring for new links is that in addition to shops with distinctive boudin recipes (many passed down for generations), the craftsmen behind the links also devote themselves to other specialty items, from stuffed roasts and secretly blended hamburger patties to jalapeño-sausage-cheese bread and everything in between. Discover little bits of the region you might not otherwise see; sample the links that make us famous; find new businesses and products that you may very well fall in love with; and make lasting memories with a friend, son, daughter or the whole family. Making a boudin run is a fun, wholesome and rewarding endeavor that can only lead you to great places. And it can only be done right here in Acadiana. No matter which is your favorite or how you like to consume it, one thing is for sure: We’re blessed to live in a place of such cultural and culinary distinction. Here is a list of 21 boudin places within 20 miles of Lafayette culled from the experience of creating BoudinLink.com over the past six years.
Earl’s (Lafayette): Earl’s is a throwback to the way grocery stores used to look and feel before the superstores took over. Like many such businesses, this one is a family affair, and Earl reigns over the store from his front office as he has for the past 40-plus years. The link is full-bodied and delectable, with excellent seasonings. Earl’s also sells breakfast and plate lunches. We truly enjoyed this link, and it is nice to know of a place open for an early-Sunday boudin run. 510 Verot School Road, Lafayette, 337/237-5501. Hours: Monday to Saturday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Johnson’s Boucaniere (Lafayette): Back in the 1940s in Eunice, the Johnson family became famous for their smoked sausages and boudin. Luckily, the family has brought their skills and devotion to the time-honored smokehouse arts from the Cajun Prairie to Lafayette. At this bustling establishment in the center of the city, Johnson’s mouthwatering boudin exudes tradition. Be sure to try the smoked pulled pork or brisket sandwich. You’d be hard-pressed to find one better in either Texas or Tennessee. 1111 St. John St., Lafayette, 337/269-8878, Hours: Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Guidroz’s Food Center (Lafayette): At Guidroz’s you’ll find two generations working side by side as the next generation prepares to take the reins of this North Lafayette institution. Guidroz’s has been in business for more 50 years and touts that it sells “boudin with an attitude.” What that attitude is and where precisely the boudin developed its attitude is not disclosed. Attitude aside, the red-hued link provides an explosion of porky goodness. 1301 E. Simcoe St., Lafayette, 337/235-5757. Hours: Monday, 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; Tuesday to Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Saturday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Richard’s Meat Market (Abbeville): Just outside of the historic downtown of Abbeville, Richard’s Meat Market is a relic from a time when things were simpler and always done right. The store is replete with murals on the outside of the cinder block building, and the proprietors don’t hesitate to proclaim that they have “the best boudin in town.” Richard’s has a cute meat shop serving a variety of needs. Need buffalo-and-pork sausage? Need chicken-salsa sausage? Need your deer prepared? This is the place to fulfill your needs. 117 Park Ave., Abbeville, 337/898-0836. Hours: Tuesday to Friday, 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 6:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Shawn’s Cajun Meats Too (Delcambre): This little village has become known for Shawn’s Chicken Boudin. A rarity, this non-pork boudin truly shines. It provides all the meaty goodness of a more traditional link without the pork. Some consider it an inspired recipe. Shawn’s other brilliant recipe is for Syrup Sausage. Yep, he infuses a fresh pork sausage with Steen’s 100% Pure Cane Syrup. It’s sweet and delicious; you’ll love it. 210 W. Highway 14, Delcambre, 337/685-0920. Hours: Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Legnon’s Boucherie (New Iberia): Pop into Legnon’s Boucherie almost any time, and the number of people queuing up to get fresh-cut meats and preseasoned burger patties is likely to astound you. Talk about popular! The link is first-rate and consists of a loose blend of rice with extra pork and plenty of crunchy green onions. 410 Jefferson Terrace, New Iberia, 337/367-3831. Hours: Tuesday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Saturday, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
NuNu’s Fresh Market (Youngsville): The Broussards’ award-winning boudin is based on a closely guarded 50-year-old family recipe. In order to maintain consistency, only one member of the family is charged with making the boudin. The link is a complex flavor of pork, rice and seasonings, with just the right peppery zing. But don’t stop with the boudin. They make more than 15 varieties of fresh sausage, and the boudin master is always coming up with new products such as cheesy boudin balls. 509 Lafayette St., Youngsville, 337/856-6889. Hours: Open daily, 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; deli closes at 8 p.m.
Billeaud’s Grocery (Broussard): Billy Billeaud runs a tight ship in Broussard, and you can bet that his boudin is tops. With an almost- perfect blend of rice and meat, this link has been called “a classic link of boudin bordering on the exquisite.” The plate lunches are made by a crew of truly skilled cooks, and the meat department is second to none. For a special treat, make sure to try the crawfish boudin. It too ranks at the top of many people’s lists of the best – all this from a little gas station store. 111 E. Main St., Broussard, 337/837-6825. Hours: Monday to Saturday, 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, 6:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Tiny Prudhomme’s House of Meat (Broussard): Tiny is the great-nephew of famed chef Paul Prudhomme, so you know his culinary pedigree is solid. His place isn’t open on the weekends, but during the week Tiny is putting his attention to some of the best Cajun foods around. Tiny’s boudin does not include liver, and the flavors are clean and pure. He’s also justifiably proud of his crawfish boudin recipe, which he perfected over a three-year period of trial and error. 416 N. Morgan Ave., Broussard, 337/837-3791. Hours: Monday to Friday, 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Babineaux’s Slaughterhouse (Breaux Bridge): As you turn off of the Anse Broussard Highway and down Babineaux Road, you might think you’ve taken a wrong turn. Fear not. You’re about to arrive at a true classic. Babineaux’s is also one of the last places around where you can sample both boudin blanc (white) – the standard – and boudin rouge (red), which was once prevalent. Boudin rouge takes on a dark, nearly black, color from the use of pig blood. Don’t be shy – this is the way past generations loved their Cajun boudin. 1019 Babineaux Road, Breaux Bridge, 337/332-1961. Hours: Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday, 7 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Webster’s Quality Meats (Cecilia): Webster’s does just about everything the old-fashioned way: simple. The building is truly a classic; it once served as a Cajun dance hall before being moved to the current location and retrofitted as a store, but the old oak floors remain. The boudin recipe is old school, and the overall ambiance is satisfying if minimalist. Locals rave about the plate lunches and Sunday barbecue plates, too. 2685 Grandpoint Highway, Cecilia, 337/667-6231. Hours: Tuesday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Sunday, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Bourque’s Supermarket (Port Barre): Bourque’s has long been a favorite for people living in and around Port Barre. Recently, its reputation has been expanding, and this is due to the Bourques tinkering with and then finding what they consider the perfect boudin recipe. This is a full-service superstore, and its jalapeño-sausage-cheese bread is legendary – rightfully so, I might add. 581 Saizan St., Port Barre, 337/ 585-6261. Hours: Open daily, 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Kelly’s Country Meat Block (Opelousas): For more than 30 years Kelly and Elaine Cormier have been satisfying customers in Opelousas with their devotion to high-quality meats at reasonable prices. In addition to the store’s distinctive boudin, which has fluffy whole grains of rice and large chunks of roast pork, many of the specialty meats – such as the tasso, andouille and smoked sausages – are great. Kelly’s distinguishes itself when it comes to boudin, and you should undertake your own taste test. 1531 S. Union St., Opelousas, 337/942-7466. Hours: Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Saturday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Best Stop (Scott): This extremely popular spot for boudin and cracklins usually has a small line of people waiting to be served. The boudin emits a mild smoky flavor not usually found in boudin; it is distinctly porky and has a juiciness about it. The Best Stop makes about 1,000 pounds of boudin each day. 615 Highway 93 N., Scott, 337/ 233-5805. Hours: Monday to Saturday, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Vautrot’s (Church Point): This steel-sided mini-mart and gas station certainly does nothing to inspire. However, in the back is a modest kitchen and meat room along with the requisite meat cases. You’ll find some chickens and maybe some ribs turning away on the rotisserie. The links are a standout, with excellent flavor and a wonderful aroma. What could be a better reason to venture into the Cajun countryside to Church Point than to seek out a delicious link? 1028 Peach Bloom Highway, Church Point, 337/684-6164. Hours: Monday to Thursday, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Janise’s Supermarket (Sunset): Head up Interstate 49 to the little town of Sunset for a first-rate link of boudin. This independent grocery store hearkens back to a day before the corporate giants took over your everyday shopping needs. The link is one of the top-rated boudins north of Interstate 10, and it is so good that it draws folks (famous, infamous and common) from as far away as New Orleans seeking to satisfy their boudin cravings. 147 Oak Tree Park Drive, Sunset, 337/662-5512. Hours: Open daily, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Cormier’s Country Store (Cankton): Many people will remember the Swifty Food Superette in Carencro that burned down a few years back. Well, Ron Cormier is back in business in Cankton, and he’s making a whole slew of Cajun goodies such as boudin, cracklins, sausage, tasso and dressing mix. The boudin is meaty and super-juicy; it also receives top marks for its green onion-tinged flavor. It sits behind the counter in a bath of broth just waiting to be snatched with a pair of tongs and rung up at the register. 792 Main St., Cankton, 337/668-4467. Hours: Monday to Saturday, 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday, 7 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Don’s Specialty Meats (Scott): Don’s sells upward of 364 tons of boudin in a given year, so you know it is a fan favorite. The meaty link packs flavor and zest in each bite. However, the secret that locals plan their days around comes in the form of a huge bone-in pork chop sandwich served only on Saturday mornings. It is meaty, tender and served with homemade barbecue sauce that leaves you craving more. 730 Interstate 10 S. Frontage Road, Scott, 337/234-2528. Hours: Monday to Saturday, 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Second location: 104 Highway 1252, Carencro, 337/896-6370. Hours: Monday to Saturday, 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. (7 p.m. during the summer); Sunday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Early’s Food Store (Scott): Early’s surprised a lot of people at this year’s Boudin Cookoff, but the folks in Scott know that their hometown store with the “Now It’s Cajun” seasoning blend is apt to turn out some great food. The link is enchanting, and the Sunday barbecue is delicious, with some of the best-tasting potato salad around. Pick up some beef and chicken burgers, and you’re set. 1410 St. Mary St., Scott, 337/ 234-4592. Open daily, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Mike’s Country Corner (Duson): Many consider the boudin balls at Mike’s Country Corner to be among the best in the state. Inside the crisp shell of these giant spheres is Mike’s closely guarded boudin recipe. Mike also makes a boudin pie, which is a pastry pie crust with boudin filling topped with creamy sweet potatoes and crunchy pecans.
He’s won awards for this one, and after tasting it, you’ll understand why. 7499 Cameron Street, Duson, 337/873-3467. Hours: Monday to Saturday, 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, 5:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Trahan Foods (Rayne): Trahan Foods is an independent grocery store in the center of Rayne that is worth a visit.
The boudin is made fresh on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and it barely lasts over the weekend. The link has equal amounts of full grains of rice and pulverized meat. The store even sells both mild and spicy versions to satisfy different tastes. 601 N. Arenas St., Rayne, 337/334-3162. Open daily, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Top 6 unique boudin innovations
1. Lafayette’s Own Boudin Cookoff – Held in mid-October, this family-friendly event brings together the top boudin-makers for an extravaganza of boudin-tasting. www.boudincookoff.com.
2. Cheesy Boudin Balls – Put a blend of cheese (everything’s better with cheese on or in it) into a boudin ball, and then fry it (everything is better fried), and voilà: You’re in boudin heaven. The best we’ve tasted came from NuNu’s.
3. Beef Boudin – The jury is still out on this import from East Texas (where else?), but the simple fact that we’ve now got beef boudin is a testament to the versatility of the wonderful concept that is boudin.
4. Smoked Boudin – We’re seeing a lot of places with smoked boudin these days, and it is no wonder. The smoke (when done correctly) adds a depth of flavor that is unmatched. Try it at Sonnier’s in Lake Charles.
5. Boudin Burgers – Put a boudin patty between two buns, dress to your liking, and lo and behold you’ve got a creation that a franchise could be built upon. Check out Johnson’s Boucaniere or Poche’s in Breaux Bridge for a sample.
6. Eggplant Boudin – Yes, indeed. Our vegetarian brethren have been wondering for some time why there isn’t vegetarian boudin, and the Markerson brothers have done it and done it well. Look for your next opportunity to sample some at the 2011 Boudin Cookoff in Lafayette.
BOUDIN AND BEYOND
If you’re looking for a boudin run to take you further afield, consider these locations:
• Bourgeois Meat Market. 543 W. Main St., Thibodaux.
• Crescent Pie and Sausage Co. 4400 Banks St., New Orleans.
• Bergeron’s Boudin and Cajun Meats. 760 Highway 415, Port Allen.
• T-Boy’s Slaughterhouse. 2228 Pine Point Road, Ville Platte.
• Sonnier’s Sausage and Boudin. 1224 Simmons St., Lake Charles.
• The Sausage Link. 2400 E. Napoleon St., Sulphur.
For More Information
BoudinLink.com is the Web’s premier site for finding the places to get boudin in Louisiana and beyond. Want more in-depth reviews of the particular links or to locate even more boudin places? Check out the reviews of more than 130 different links from around the state and beyond.
CracklinTrail.com is a new website from the creators of BoudinLink.com, and it is a site where you can discuss the intricacies of Louisiana’s second-most-beloved pork snack.