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Andouille

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A Cajun sausage made from pork. It is popular in Chicken and Andouille Gumbo. Andouille is a well-seasoned, heavily smoked sausage used as a major flavoring agent in gumbo, stew, gravy, jambalaya and other Cajun dishes. Though the name is French, its production was heavily influenced by the many people who settled in Acadiana, including the many Germans who brought to Louisiana a strong sausage-making tradition. It was originally made at the boucherie or hog butchering each winter. As historian Barry Ancelet tells, “In the pre-refrigeration era, neighboring families in rural districts…routinely pooled their resources to insure a steady supply of meat.” At these gatherings, families shared hogs and the meat products made from them.

In Louisiana it is made with pork, seasonings and spends a long time in the smoker. What distinguishes andouille from other smoked sausages are its larger diameter (approximately two inches) and shorter length (six inches). It is often used as flavoring and the stuffing is more coarsely ground, has a higher fat content, and generally has more seasoning than other smoked sausages. There are two contrasting types of andouille. One variety comes from the area known as La Côte des Allemands, (the German coast) centered in St Charles and St John the Baptist parishes. Here the andouille is a typically spicy, coarsely ground pork sausage with a wide diameter. Ground pork is stuffed into a large casing, traditionally the large intestine of a hog, and smoked. LaPlace, located in St. John the Baptist Parish, has proclaimed itself the Andouille Capital of the World and holds a huge festival in October of each year.

The second type of andouille comes from the western side of the Atchafalaya basin, specifically Acadia Parish, where andouille is similar to the French sausage of the same name. The large intestine of a hog is stuffed with sanitized highly seasoned small intestines, then smoked. Andouille is generally smoked over pecan wood and sugar cane. Chef John Folse asserts,” When smoked, it becomes very dark to almost black in color. It is not uncommon for the Cajuns to smoke andouille for seven to eight hours at approximately 175 degrees…It is interesting to note that the finest andouille in France comes from the Brittany and Normandy areas. It is believed that over half of the Acadian exiles who came to Louisiana in 1755 were originally from these coastal regions.”

Food writer, Ian McNulty, notes that the defining feature of good andouille is the intensity of the smoking. He muses, “That smoke really cannot be taken lightly. Even the menus that I brought back with me from the shops smelled of delicious smoke after sharing a bag with the tightly wrapped sausage during the car ride home, like some kind of olfactory advertising ploy. Every time I opened my refrigerator door, I half expected Jacob's andouille, the smokiest of any we tried, to set off my smoke alarm.”

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