The world of sausage is vast and there are about 200 varieties of it just in the United States. Imagine a place like Germany, the global capital of all things sausage. There are well over 1,200 there! Yet, some sausage varieties stand out from the others and one of those is Andouille sausage.
Andouille sausage actually originates from France. It is smoked and heavily spiced, although the spices used will be different depending on which region it is made in.
However, andouille sausage left its French nest a long time ago, finding a home in stores and kitchens all over the world (there are also plenty of andouille alternatives). Part of the reason this French-born sausage is so popular is that it has a very unique taste that many people love.
If you’ve ever asked yourself what is special about andouille sausage, there are many reasons why that is so.
10 Reasons Why Andouille Sausage is Special
Aside from having a unique and well-traveled history, Andouille is a must-have ingredient for anyone that enjoys cooking or eating Cajun or Creole foods.
However, there are other reasons that make this smoky, hot, and spicy sausage a special kind of meat.
- It’s bulkier than other sausages because the meat is chopped rather than minced.
- It can be used as a side meat, but is substantial enough to be the star of a meal, too.
- You can adjust how spicy you want by adding more heat or letting it be.
- There are many variations of andouille that you can buy in stores or online.
- When it’s smoked, it has a long refrigerated shelf life and can last in the freezer for six months.
- Ambitious cooks can actually make their own andouille sausage.
- You can use andouille in place of any other smoked sausage for recipes (just be prepared for the spiciness).
- Cooking with andouille gives you direct access to three different types of cuisine: French, Cajun, and Creole. You can be a globetrotter just by going to your kitchen!
- Andouille is a very flexible and versatile sausage. It pairs well with legumes, rice, vegetables, and other meats.
- You can eat andouille straight from the fridge (if it’s precooked), or you can cook it. Bake, fry, braise or stew it. There isn’t much you can’t do with this amazing sausage.
What Makes Andouille Sausage Andouille?
Traditionally made from pork, French charcutiers (sausage makers) take a very distinct approach to creating this spicy and delicious sausage.
The process is very economical, taking full advantage of the pig’s digestive organs. The small intestine and stomach are chopped before being mixed with vegetables (especially onions, garlic, and pepper).
Of course, being from France, wine is often included in the ingredients. Then, spices are added before stuffing the mixture into the large intestine, which serves as the casing.
That’s the general idea of how it’s made in purist French cooking, but it becomes more complex when incorporating newer methods and other countries, particularly in the U.S.
To create that unique andouille sausage flavor, butchers and cooks use several techniques. Once the ingredients are brought together, the sausage is usually dried first.
Then, it is smoked (usually smoked twice if made in the U.S.). It can then be steamed or boiled before it officially becomes the andouille sausage that so many have come to adore and appreciate.
Why Do They Call It Andouille Sausage?
Andouille is a French word that basically translates to “to lead or bring in”. Some say that the term can be a diss word meaning “idiot”. However, there’s nothing idiotic about andouille sausage.
The process of making it is multi-layered and it appeals to every sort of palate, simple or sophisticated. Whether you’re a home cook, gourmet chef, or just a person that appreciates good food, you’ll find the taste of andouille to be anything but basic.
What Does Andouille Sausage Taste Like?
An andouille sausage’s overall taste profile is robust and complex. This sausage does not have a shy and understated flavor. It’s bold but delectable.
Typically, the flavor is spicy because ingredients like onion, garlic, and pepper are added to it. As it is a twice-over smoked sausage, you will get unmistakable hints of smokiness when you taste it.
That’s also why it works so well for certain recipes, particularly in Cajun and Creole cuisines such as jambalaya, crawfish boil, various shrimp recipes. In the US, it’s common in New Orleans and south Louisiana restaurants.
In fact, many recipes that call for andouille sausage also call for extra bursts of spicy seasonings. Don’t be surprised to see seasonings like crushed red pepper and ground cayenne pepper included in dishes that have andouille sausage in them.
People that like their food on the hot and spicy side will NOT be disappointed. Unlike spicy Italian sausage that can also have a sweet side, Andouille sausage is straight spicy.
What Is The Difference Between Andouille Sausage and Cajun Sausage?
Both Cajun and Andouille sausages are popular meat staples in the American South, often used in cuisines that are native to southern Louisiana and surrounding areas.
The difference is that Cajun sausage is an umbrella term that encompasses other types of sausage, one of which is Andouille.
Other types of Cajun/Creole sausages include:
- Boudin: sausage made from pork, vegetables, rice, and seasonings.
- Creole Hot Sausage: pork sausage with paprika and various peppers.
- Chaurice: a spicy pork sausage that is heavily spiced.
In addition to Andouille and the other sausages, there are other seasoning meats that are common in Cajun and Creole cuisines, such as tasso (spicy pork that has been smoked) and pickle meat (vinegar-marinated pork that is seasoned with multiple savory spices and peppers.
The Difference Between Cajun and Creole Cuisine
Many people will use Cajun and Creole to describe the unique cuisine that comes from the Mississippi Delta region, particularly southern Louisiana. However, there are big differences between the two.
Each is a unique culture with its own customs and cooking traditions. Creole food is actually more refined, while Cajun food is informally considered to be its “country cousin”.
As opposed to Cajun food, Creole cuisine uses tomatoes and seafood in many dishes, often including what is referred to as the “Holy Trinity”, a vegetable blend of onions, bell peppers, and celery.
While Cajun cuisine emphasizes smoked meat over seafood and does not typically include tomatoes, it does use its own Holy Trinity mix that is known as mirepoix, a French-based vegetable mixture that includes onions and celery but uses carrots much more frequently than bell peppers.
Both cultures are influenced by French culture because many Cajuns and Creoles actually have French heritage and ancestry. That is part of the reason that both cultures are distinct but also share many culinary characteristics.
From that alone, it makes sense that French cooking techniques, meals, and foods – such as Andouille sausage – are infused with Cajun and Creole cooking.