Boudin blanc are strange wobbly looking things, like great white worms, all smooth and soft. And just a wee bit alien and creepy. There is no sign of the rough fat laced meat bursting through the skin that you get with a banger.
I spotted them in the wonderful Wazemme food market in Lille, nestled among all manner of strange and wonderful sausagy concoctions. And having eaten in a restaurant named for them, I couldn’t resist buying a couple, despite having no idea what they were or how they are cooked.
Turns out they are the gentle soothing sausage equivalent of chicken soup. All smooth rounded edges and gentle creamy flavours. Compared to a saucy British banger or spicy Spanish chorizo they were subtle to the point of blandness.
But treat them right and pair them with complementary flavours and their subtle meatiness is both tasty and different. I dug out a recipe from the only person I could think of who would have one for boudin, Stephane Reynaud.
Boudin blanc are constructed of white meats (veal, pork and chicken) cooked in cream and ground to fine consistency. Meaty gravy and spicy sauce is just going to overwhelm them.
Reynaud calls for a sweeter accompaniment of carrot, apple and fennel. This gives a gentle textured and tasty background to the smooth and ever so gentle meaty flavours. It adds layers of interest and complexity without killing the boudin.
So, despite their other worldly appearance and and subtle taste, boudin blanc do have a place in the kitchen. Simple and quick to prepare, easy on the stomach, these are the ideal convalescence food if you are (as I was) feeling rubbish.
The wibbly wobbly and gentle recipe
God knows where you can get boudin blanc in the UK, but to be honest, you could use any mild sausage here. It would be particularly good with a pure pork or chicken sausage. Boudin are already cooked and so you only need to heat them through. So you would just need to cook them longer to ensure the meat is cooked through.
I took this recipe from Reynaud’s superb new book “365 good reasons to sit down to eat”. It’s packed full of quick meals with a definite French flavour to them. A refreshing reminder that French food isn’t all complex sauces and fine dining.
2 boudin blanc
1 large carrot
Third tsp pf fennel seeds
Black pepper to season
Olive oil and butter
Slice the onion, put a slice of butter into a frying pan over a low heat with a glug of oil. Add the onion and boudin and leave to gently cook. Turn and stir occaisionally to stop burning.
Peel the apple, potato and carrot and slice into rounds approximately the same width. Put the apple in a bowl full of water with a wee squeeze of lemon to stop them browning.
Fill a deep saucepan with water and bring to a gentle boil. Add the potatoes and boil for five minutes, then add the carrot and boil for a further five. Then drain. If the potatoes stay whole, great, if not, then don’t worry. Mine came out a crumbled mess.
Take the boudin and onion out of the frying pan and keep warm. Add the apple, carrot, potato and fennel seeds and leave to glaze in the buttery oil as best as possible.
Season and serve.