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Saturday, February 9, 2013

Boudins and Black Puddings on French Menus. The Sausages of France II.

The Boudin Blanc and the Boudin Noir.
Behind the French Menu
Bryan Newman
Boudin Blanc with creamed potatoes and braised lettuce.
Photograph courtesy of pussnboots.
Boudin – A sausage. Originally all uncooked, sausages were boudins; a name that differentiated them from pre-cooked sausages  called saucisses  and saucissons  that included salami style sausages and more. 
  Make your choice from the different boudins blanc on sale
Photograph courtesy of banlon1964
   Today many of the boudins on sale are pre-cooked, and so the unique meaning has gone; despite those changes the most popular fresh sausages on restaurant menus are still the boudin blanc and the boudin noir. The boudin blanc’s name indicates it is made with white meats, traditionally veal, lamb and pork, with poultry and rabbit sometimes included. The boudin noir is a pre-cooked pork-blood sausage called a black pudding in Britain and Eire.  Both boudin blancs and boudin noirs will be served, in France, after being grilled or fried.

Boudin blanc served with braised kale.
Photograph courtesy of Michael F. Weinberg
See more of Michael's photos on his Flickr Photostream:
   France’s chefs are extraordinarily creative and as French cuisine  does not stand still you will now find vegetarian boudins and seafood boudins in French delicatessens and on restaurant menus:

      Boudin d'Homard – A lobster sausage.

      Boudin de Saumon –  A salmon sausage.

    Traditional boudin blanc offerings on your menu may include:

Boudin Blanc Grillé, Sauce Estragon – A white meat sausage grilled and served with a tarragon sauce.  Failing a clear indication on the menu ask the waiter which meat is inside the sausage; usually a lack of clarity indicates that it will be a pork sausage.

A Puligny Montrachet 2003 paired with boudin blanc. 
Photograph courtesy of ulterior epicure.
Boudin Blanc Maison au Porto  –  A home-made pork sausage flavored with Port. It will probably be grilled, however, as always, when the menu is not clear, and it matters: Ask.
Boudin Basque au Piment d'Espelette – A pork sausage from the Basque country made with the popular dried red peppers from the town of Espelette.
The Boudin Noir – Black puddings.

Boudin Noir  served with choucroute. 
Photograph courtesy of rdpeyton
Boudin Noir – Black pudding.  The Boudin Noir is a pig’s blood sausage made with an exceptionally wide range of recipes that begin with the traditions of the area where it is made.  The most popular recipes include pig’s fat, apples, onions, mashed potato and herbs and spices. The sausages are boiled and then allowed to cool before being fried or grilled. French boudins noir are mostly smaller sausages than the black pudding sausages seen in the UK and elsewhere, the most popular are  just large enough for an individual serving.
 A mid-day snack in Burgundy.
Époisses AOP cheese, the most well regarded of all Burgundy cheeses served on a dejeunette, a small baguettte with a local boudin noir.
Photograph courtesy of  .solo
For more on French breads see the post:    
   The UK and Eire black puddings  are also pig’s blood sausages and mixed with pig’s fat but most, according to my informants, add oatmeal and onions, sometimes barley and, of course, every producer’s secret collection of herbs. These black puddings are also boiled and then allowed to cool; however most are made in large sizes, and fried or grilled slices are part of a full traditional British or Irish breakfast.

    A boudin noir will not be on many French breakfast menus;  it will be part of a light lunch or part of a dinner menu. Boudin noirs will be served grilled or fried; often with fried slices of apple, spinach or other vegetables.  The boudin noir is hugely popular, and new recipes are always being added.

Boudin noir with mashed potatoes over caramelized  apple slices.  This is a classic french pairing for boudin noir.
Photograph courtesy of by L.Richarz.
See more of L. Richarz's photographs on his Flickr Photostream
    Ravioles de Boudin Noir - Ravioli stuffed with the meat of a black pudding.

    Boudin Noir, Oignons et Pommes – Black pudding sausage served with onions and potatoes.

   Croustillant de Boudin Noir sur une Purée de Pommes de Terre et Carottes – A crispy black pudding sausage served with pureed potatoes and carrots.

   Visit the town of Mortagne-au-Perche, in Normandie, and here you will begin to realize that boudin noir is not just a sausage for the French, British and the Irish alone; this is a sausage of importance to all mankind. From all over the world, in the spring, usually the third weekend in March, teams come to the Foire au Boudin de Mortagne-au-Perche, the Mortagne-au-Perche black pudding fair.
On sale at the black pudding fair  in Mortagne-au-Perche.
Photograph courtesy  of Pierre Marcel.
   In Mortagne-au-Perche, reputations and history are on the line, and traditional rivalries attract supporters and sausage groupies. Over 100 producers and their supporting teams will be offering their products in competitions and others will be selling them along with many other local products. The way the herbs are used and methods of preparation are claimed as unique by each team and are handed down through the generations. Among black pudding producers recipes are guarded closer than the secrets of Coca-Cola syrup. 
Tasting the product at the  Foire au Boudin 
de Mortagne-au-Perche.   
Photograph Tasting the product at the Foire au Boudin de Mortagne-au-Perche by Pierre Marcel of by Pierre Marcel.
   The organizers of this international competition are the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Goûte Boudin, the brother and sisterhood of the knights of the black pudding.  Should you limit your consumption of black pudding to a couple of slices for breakfast once or twice a month then you could not join these valiant knights; a true Knight of the Black Pudding must promise to eat at least one whole sausage a week for life. More to the point the knight must take an oath with a long pronged fork over a grill!
Other products on sale at the black pudding fair.   
Photograph courtesy of Pierre Marcel.
    If you feel the same way as these knights do about black puddings, get your travel guides out double check the dates of next year’s fair.  Mortagne-au-Perche is about 140 kms from Paris, in the département of Orne, Normandie.

  The French names for sausages are numerous with the most popular sausages including Andouilles, Andouillettes, Boudins, Saucisse, Saucisson and Saucisson Sec. Andouilletes were the subject of an earlier post. See: Andouillettes. The Sausages of France I.

   If you are feeling thirsty after all the tastings of black puddings at the fair visit the nearby small town of Nogent-le-Rotrou.  Nogent-le-Rotrou is just 30 kms, 20 miles, away from Mortagne-au-Perche and here are based the Commanderie Percheronne des Gouste-Cidre,  the headquarters  of  the cider tasters, a brotherhood and sisterhood that promote all French ciders, and there are many. For more on French ciders see the post: The Magnificent Ciders of France, all the French you Need to Know.
Bryan G. Newman
Behind the French Menu.
Copyright 2010, 2013

For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman