Boudin balls are a combination of cooked rice, pork, onions, green peppers, and seasonings rolled in panko breadcrumbs and fried until golden brown.
While preparing this post, I found this quote on the Southern Foodways Alliance website that sums up the mystery that is boudin perfectly.
“I figure that about 80 percent of the boudin purchased in Louisiana is consumed before the purchaser has left the parking lot, and most of the rest is polished off in the car. In other words, Cajun boudin not only doesn’t get outside the state; it usually doesn’t even get home.”
– Calvin Trillin, from his essay, “The Missing Links: In Praise of the Cajun Foodstuff That Doesn’t Get Around.”
If you don’t live South of the Mason Dixon line, or in the vicinity of Louisiana for that matter, you may be scratching your head and wondering, “What is boudin?”
What is Boudin?
First things first, it’s pronounced “boo-dan.” It’s a sausage made up of cooked rice, ground pork, onions, green peppers, and seasonings. And it is awesome. That pretty much covers the basics.
Boudin is a Cajun version of peasant food. Back in the day, Cajun families held what they called a boucherie. It’s a communal pig slaughter. Where these days, your family might gather around the dinner table for a holiday meal, these guys gathered around the table to butcher a pig. Because there was no modern refrigeration, much of the meat was processed into items that could be cured. The rice was added to stretch the meat further.
Luckily, boucheries are no longer a requirement for boudin. I won’t even allow my husband to hold a crawfish boil in my backyard. I’m sure as heck not about to agree to a communal pig slaughtering. I found the boudin required for my boudin balls at my local grocery store.
If you don’t live close to Louisiana, it’s probably unlikely you will find boudin in your neck of the woods. This recipe for homemade boudin seems to be the standard (no pig slaughtering required). You can also purchase boudin online (not an affiliate link).
How to Make Boudin Balls
If you are able to find pre-made boudin, these little boudin balls come together very easily. You will need one pound of sausages. First, start by removing the meat from the casings and throw the casings away.
Next, spread 1 1/2 cups of Panko breadcrumbs in the bottom of a shallow bowl. Panko are a Japanese-style of breadcrumbs made from bread without crusts. They have a crunchier texture that standard breadcrumbs. You can usually find them right in the same aisle as regular breadcrumbs.
In a separate bowl, we are also going to whisk together two large eggs, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon of hot sauce.
Pour enough oil into a large skillet (I prefer cast iron for frying) deep enough to immerse the balls halfway. Heat the oil over medium high heat until it begins to shimmer.
While the oil is heating, form the boudin into 1 ½ inch balls. This is roughly the size of a gold ball. Working in batches, roll balls in the egg mixture first, followed by the bread crumbs. Make sure to coat them evenly. Place the balls in the hot oil, a few at a time, until they are light brown. They should be cooked through in about 3-5 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
Everything needs a dipping sauce
In Louisiana, boudin balls may be served with a side of remoulade. But here in Mississippi, we have something called comeback sauce. I’ve heard the flavor is a combination of Thousand Island salad dressing and remoulade.
To make comeback sauce, combine ½ teaspoon garlic powder, 1 cup mayonnaise, ½ cup ketchup, ¼ cup canola or vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon yellow mustard, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, 2 tablespoons water and ¼ teaspoon hot sauce. Whisk everything together until everything is incorporated. The finished sauce will have a light pink-orange hue.
If you have any comeback sauce leftover, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will last a couple of weeks. It’s great with fried green tomatoes or on a sandwich. You can also use it as a salad dressing. Some people here even like to smear it on saltine crackers as a snack.
Boudin balls taste like a fried meatball (and I ask you, how could that possible be bad?). They are best served hot and crispy with a side of homemade comeback sauce for dipping.
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For the boudin balls:
- 1 pound homemade or store bought boudin sausage
- 1 ½ cups panko bread crumbs or more, if needed
- 2 large eggs lightly beaten
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon hot sauce
- Vegetable oil for deep-frying
For the Comeback sauce:
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup ketchup
- ¼ cup oil
- 1 teaspoon mustard
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons water
- ¼ teaspoon hot sauce
For the boudin balls:
- If using store bought boudin, remove sausage from the casings.
- Spread bread crumbs evenly in a shallow bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, salt, cayenne, and hot sauce.
- Form the boudin into 1 ½ inch balls (a little smaller than a gold ball).
- Pour enough oil into a large skillet (I prefer cast iron for frying) deep enough to immerse the balls halfway. Heat oil over medium high heat until it begins to shimmer.
- Working in batches, roll balls in the egg mixture, followed by the bread crumbs. Make sure to coat them evenly. Place the balls in the hot oil, a few at a time, until they are light brown, about 3-5 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
- Serve warm with a side of comeback sauce.
For the comeback sauce:
- Combine comeback ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix with a wire whisk until well incorporated.
- Store any remaining sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator.