Originally hailing from Europe, andouille sausage is a form of smoked sausage made primarily using the digestive tract of a pig mixed with stuffing (although, different regions tend to play around with other ingredients).
In the U.S., andouille sausage is heavily influenced by Creole and Cajun cuisine. It’s made from the upper shoulder of a pig (also known as pork butt or Boston butt) and is often seasoned using pepper, onions, and various other spices like cayenne pepper.
So, what is andouille sausage? In this article, I’ll be taking you through the ins and outs of this delicacy, including its origins, preparation, and the key ingredients needed to make andouille sausage.
Table of Contents
Where Does Andouille Sausage Originate From?
Before becoming a Louisiana favorite, andouille sausage originally came from either France or Germany. The true origin is still unknown to this day.
Some say that early French settlers who developed a taste for andouille sausage brought the delicacy over to Louisiana in the late 1600s.
“Andouille” is a French word which, aside from the sausage, can be used as a derogatory term for insulting someone’s intelligence (E.g., idiot, moron, etc.).
However, it’s also worth noting that the language of business was often carried out in French at the time, which may be another indicator of the origins of this delicacy.
Similarly, German settlers also brought strong sausage-making traditions in the late 1600s and early 1700s, making it impossible to know where andouille sausage’s true origins lie.
All that’s known for sure is that the European recipe was taken to the U.S. early on. It quickly became a favorite in the South, particularly after being infused with other cuisines.
What Is Different About Andouille Sausage?
The unique selling point of andouille sausage is that it’s often double-smoked and well-seasoned, giving it a specific aroma.
Also, unlike regular sausages that are stuffed with ground meat, andouille is stuffed with chopped or sliced meat, giving it a chunky texture.
Because of the double rounds of smoking involved in making andouille sausage, it usually has a sharper, spicier taste compared to other sausages.
This type of andouille is often ideal for making traditional Creole and Cajun dishes such as gumbo or jambalaya.
Another stand-out quality of andouille sausage is that it comes in many variations depending on where you may be.
For instance, the Cajun version is usually far more spice-heavy than its European counterparts.
Due to their smoky nature, the odor of andouille sausages may differ significantly from other types of sausages available.
What Is Andouille Sausage Made Of?
Typically, Cajun andouille sausage is made from pork, although some versions can be made using chicken or beef.
Famous for its high spice levels, the stuffing used for the Cajun variation of andouille sausage is typically made of garlic, thyme, black pepper, hot chilies, and cayenne pepper.
Some recipes have also been known to add red wine to the stuffing to enhance the aroma and flavor.
In the French version, andouille sausage ingredients include the entire digestive tract of a pig.
More specifically, this consists of the stomach and small intestines. It’s then chopped or sliced and combined with seasoning to create the final product.
Also, the European version of andouille sausage wasn’t traditionally made using smoke but was instead poached. Once this was complete, the meat was then left to cool down before eventually being served in thin slices.
The stuffing for the traditional recipe is similar to the Cajun variation, minus a few extra spices.
Usually, this consisted of onions, garlic, fat, pepper, and pork chitterlings. Again, red wine can also be added to this version to elevate the flavor and aroma of the dish.
Additionally, some of the ingredients in the European versions of andouille sausage can vary from country to country.
For instance, some German variations of andouille are made from remaining pig intestines and casings, which are seasoned (typically with salt, pepper, and thyme) and pulled through a larger casing.
What Is the Flavor of Andouille Sausage?
Andouille sausage comes in many different variations, so the end flavor depends on the way it was prepared.
However, the result is usually some combination of smoky, sharp, or spicy flavors.
Generally, the final product is packed with plenty of heat, along with some garlic and herbal undertones.
It’s worth noting that the Cajun-style andouille sausage is generally far spicier than the European versions. This is due to the heavy addition of spices such as cayenne pepper or hot chilies.
When preparing andouille from scratch, you’re free to experiment with the seasoning to achieve your desired taste.
How Is Andouille Sausage Used in Cooking?
Andouille sausage is a versatile ingredient to use in the kitchen. The list of potential recipes includes soups, stews, and rice mixtures.
It can be pan-fried, grilled, or cooked on a stovetop. Some people even enjoy adding andouille sausage to their morning omelet.
Store-bought andouille sausage is often pre-cooked, meaning it’s possible to take it out of the fridge and slice and serve it cold. Some people enjoy this version with some cheese and wine to complement it.
The Creole and Cajun approach also tends to lean towards using andouille sausage for gumbo or jambalaya. Both recipes are hearty and are usually very high in spice.
Essentially, andouille sausage is a versatile food that can be used in many different forms.
Andouille sausages (particularly Cajun style) can be easily found in grocery stores and butcher stores across the U.S.
They should typically be stored in airtight packaging or an airtight container if opened. Plus, when kept frozen in an airtight container, the sausages can be used without issue for up to six months.
Moreover, andouille sausages are versatile and can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Despite the availability of commercially mass-produced andouille, nothing quite beats the real deal. So to experience high-quality andouille sausages, it’s worth heading to Louisiana for an authentic bite!