I went to New Orleans last summer and experienced a lot of the local food traditions: beignets, pralines, shrimp po’ boys. Sadly, I didn’t have time to fit in perhaps the most iconic dishes of them all: gumbo and jambalaya. These dishes are titans of the NOLA food world, well known for their traditional inclusion of andouille sausage. Since I missed it then, I want to take a big bite out of one of those sausages now.
What is andouille sausage?
Andouille is originally from France, but was adopted by Louisianans as their own. It is almost always pork and, like most of the best pig meat products (scrapple and hot dogs), it’s made from meat scraps. Specifically, it’s the intestines and stomach linings of pigs. Yum.
Andouille came about as a way for butchers to use up all the parts of the pig, minimizing waste and maximizing profits. French settlers brought their sausages and cooking traditions to the United States and, since Louisiana was a hub of French colonialism, the andouille sausage became an essential part of their cuisine.
How is andouille sausage made?
Traditional French andouille is made with chitterlings and tripe, which are consumer-friendly names for intestines and stomach linings. In my opinion, they don’t sound that much more appealing, but I’ve never been one to shy away from a food based on its name.
The pork pieces are ground and mixed with onion, pepper, wine, and some other seasonings, and then encased in the pig’s large intestine. The sausage is smoked and then boiled, creating a dense, gray, pungent meat.
The Cajun version of andouille—the version you see at the grocery store—has several key differences. Producers still use the chitterlings and tripe, but they often use pork butt as well. They season their pork with garlic, onion, and often cayenne pepper. And the pork is double-smoked, both before it’s encased and after.
It’s worth noting that both French and Cajun andouille have a lot of variety within their respective categories.
What does andouille sausage taste like?
The Cajun version can be quite spicy, making it a perfect addition to jambalaya and gumbo. The smokiness also comes through for obvious reasons.
I have never had French andouille, but I’ve seen it described as milder and a little gamey, probably because it is made strictly with pork innards.
What makes andouille sausage different from other sausages?
The notable difference between andouille and its Italian or German counterparts is its density. The sausage casings are stuffed to the brim and the meat inside is not as finely ground as it is in other sausages.
Andouille sausage in America is normally pre-cooked, so it can be used on a charcuterie board right out of the package or as an ingredient in cooking. Its sausage counterparts are often bought raw and need to be cooked at home.
How do you pronounce andouille?
It’s French, so you know it’s going to have some letters dropped. It’s pronounced aan-doo-ee, but I like to say aan-doo-whee because it’s a real fun time to eat. I’m fun to be around.