Boudin, the Cajun meat-and-rice sausage, has always had its fans in Galveston County, but this summer seems to be the one when those fans multiply even faster than the temperature is rising. The boudin explosion comes from both ends of the food-industry spectrum, thanks to the marketing efforts of a major boudin producer and a new shop in Santa Fe from a boudin hobbyist turned pro.
Zummo’s, one of the largest mass producers of boudin in southeast Texas and Louisiana, launched a campaign this summer to encourage grillers to throw a few links of boudin on the grill. Traditionally, the sausage is steamed, but grilling adds a hint of smoke and a crispier skin that contrasts nicely with the fluffy rice-based filling.
On a smaller scale, cookoff competitor Chris McCarvell and his family have opened The Boudin Barn on FM 1764 to supply the area with an array of meat-and-rice dishes, including boudin balls, boudin burritos, boudin-stuffed jalapeños, and links of mild or spicy boudin sausage. “We wanted to mix a traditional Louisiana boudin scene with a Texas take-out,” McCarvell said. “Boudin balls are our staple. We sell them frozen for people to take home, and we also prepare them to eat immediately. Our fryers are going non-stop.”
Boudin balls were McCarvell’s gateway to opening The Boudin Barn. After making them to feed his cookoff team, friends began asking him to make a batch for special occasions “Every year, we made more,” he said. With a vacant piece of property, the former Magical Fun Land, in need of a viable business, and a product people were clamoring for, the McCarvell family put the two together and plunged into the boudin business.
McCarvell, a fourth-generation Santa Fe resident, makes the boudin daily from family recipes. “The boudin recipe was handed down to my father from my grandfather. We do small-batch production, making each link by hand,” he explained. “We get raw pork, cook it and season it with a made-to-order spice blend, cook the rice and mix it all together right here.”
For now, McCarvell is sticking to the family recipes for mild and spicy pork boudin, but is experimenting to expand the selection. “Pork is traditional, and we’ll probably branch out with a seafood base, maybe shrimp, or lump crabmeat, or crawfish tails,” he said.
The Boudin Barn is adding a selection of take-home stuffed meats. Boudin-stuffed pork chops, ribeyes and chicken breasts are available for cooking at home. “You can put them on the grill or cook it on the stove in a cast-iron skillet,” McCarvell said.
McCarvell sees the appeal of the campaign to encourage grilling boudin. “In Louisiana, everybody steams it, but here in Texas, we cook everything over a fire. You just have to e careful not to let it get too hot, or the casing will explode,” he advised. “Boudin is primarily a rice-based product, and if it gets too hot, the moisture in the rice will boil and burst the casing. Put the boudin off to the side of the grill, not directly over the fire, except maybe at the end to get some grill marks. Then just slice it open, and dash it with a little bit of hot sauce.”
Meanwhile, McCarvell will keep frying and steaming, and creating more ways to put boudin in and around just about every kind of food imaginable.