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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Andouillettes. The Sausages of France I.

Andouillette sausages are part of France’s culinary history;
but do you want to try them?
Behind the French Menu
Bryan Newman

An andouillette sausage served with a mustard sauce.
Picture by courtesy of Rob Brooks-Bilson.
Andouillettes may not be the most popular sausage in France, though they are up there in the top five, with andouillettes certainly being the most talked about sausages in France. 
There are those who love andouillettes and those who hate them, and French men and women have arguments as well as lifelong disputes over the best andouillettes.  For the locals I would put andouillettes down as a comfort food; however, for the visitor I would call them an acquired taste. American friends have compared andouillettes to different types of USA Cajun chitlins, also called chitterlings.

Canned Andouillette sausages.
Photograph by courtesy of Sylvain Mayeur,
with the permission of this manufacturer of canned andouillettes:
Gilbert Lemelle, Troye, France.
The andouillette is strong tasting, and can also be a strong smelling sausage, and as a popular, traditional, sausage  it will be on menus where other French comfort foods are offered.  I tried andouillettes with a strong mustard sauce and  I found that  there are other French sausages I prefer.
 Andouillettes are traditionally served hot, grilled, with fried potatoes, apples and red cabbage, however as you may see below there are many other options:
Andouillette AAAAA Grillée Sauce Moutarde – Grilled andouillette AAAAA sausages served with a mustard sauce.
Andouillette à la Lyonnaise Andouillette sausages prepared in the manner of the City of Lyon.  There andouillette sausages are served with fried échalotes, shallots, or onions, cooked in white wine and butter.

An andouillette and French fries.
Photograph courtesy of C. Webb
The AAAAA  seen on many menu offerings for andouillette sausages is not the French for a sigh of contentment after having eaten an incredible sausage. The letters AAAAA on the menu  indicates andouillettes that have been made by a member of the Association Amicale des Amateurs d'Andouillette Authentiques, the Friendly Association of the Lovers of Authentic Andouillette sausages, AAAAA for short. This is a sausage manufacturer’s association, dedicated to preserving the traditional andouillette sausages, and making them more popular; members of this association label their andouillette sausages AAAAA.  Restaurants will make a note on their menu when the andouillettes they serve are entitled to the label. Despite the obvious self-aggrandizement shown here the French consumer long ago accepted AAAAA on these sausages as a sign of quality.
L'Andouillette AAAAA Grillée à la Crème de Camembert – Andouillette AAAAA sausages grilled and served with a cream of Camembert cheese sauce.
Gratin d'Andouillette AAAAA à la Moutarde de Meaux et Mesclun de Salade -  AAAAA andouillette sausages, browned under the grill and served with the unique mustard from the town of Meaux, alongside a mixed green salad. Meaux is better known for its Brie cheese, but the town’s unique mustard is also highly rated.
Andouillettes for the visitor are sometimes confused with another sausage, the andouille. At first glance there would seem to be many similarities, as they are both made with pork and or veal tripe and intestines; some are made with a mixture of both meats, but there the difference ends.  Andouilles are smoked and milder, the herbs and spices used differ, and andouillettes have a stronger bite. There are no fixed sizes for andouillettes as every sausage manufacturer chooses their own; the size relates to the various internal parts used. 
Bryan G. Newman
Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2014.
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