Wild Game Recipe: Venison Boudin

Photo by Johnny Miller; Food styling by Roscoe Betsill

Boudin (boo-DAN) is a specialty of southwest Louisiana, where you'll find it served in fine restaurants, on home tables, and at truck stops along Interstate 10--in short, everywhere. This simple sausage is a famously addictive treat, and definitely worth the trouble of hauling out your sausage stuffer. Adding venison to the traditional pork filling is a time-honored and delicious Cajun variation, and a fantastic use for any deer roasts you may have lingering in the deep freeze. Don't be overly stingy with the cayenne; the rice will absorb a lot of the spice, and a little sting on the tongue goes well with a cold beer.

Venison Boudin Recipe

Ingredients
- 2 lb. venison, cut into
- 1-inch cubes
- 1 lb. pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1⁄2 lb. very fresh venison or pork liver, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 large white onion, peeled and quartered, plus 1 cup chopped
- 3 bay leaves
- 8 peppercorns
- 3 cups long-grain rice
- 1⁄4 cup lard or bacon drippings
- 1 green bell pepper, roughly chopped
- 2 celery ribs, roughly chopped
- 1 cup green onions, finely chopped (white and green parts separated)
- 3 Tbsp. minced garlic
- 1 cup parsley, chopped
- 2 tsp. dried thyme
- 1 tsp. dried sage
- Cayenne pepper, to taste
- 35-38mm natural hog casings*
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
*You can purchase hog casings at most butcher shops.

Directions:
1. Place the venison, pork, and liver in a large pot and add cold water until the meat is submerged by an inch or more. Bring to a simmer, and skim off all the foam that rises to the surface. Add the quartered onion, bay leaves, and peppercorns, and reduce the heat to low. Simmer, partially covered, for about 2 hours, or until the venison is very tender. Using a slotted spoon, remove the meat and onion to a large mixing bowl. Scoop out and reserve 7 cups of the cooking liquid, and discard the remainder.

2. Cook the rice: Bring 6 cups of reserved cooking liquid to a boil over high heat. Add the rice, stir, and reduce the heat to low. Cook, covered, for about 20 minutes, or until the rice is done. Fluff with a fork, and set aside to cool.

3. Meanwhile, in a medium saute pan, heat the lard or bacon drippings over medium-high heat. Add the bell pepper, celery, and the white parts of the green onions, and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and half the parsley, and continue to cook for another 2 minutes. Add this mixture to the meat in the mixing bowl.

4. Grind the meats and sauteed vegetables twice, first with the medium grinding plate and then with the fine. To the ground mixture, add the rice, the chopped green onions, the remaining parsley, thyme, sage, and cayenne. Salt and pepper generously (about a tablespoon of each), and mix well with a wooden spoon to incorporate all the ingredients. Taste the mixture to check the seasoning, adjusting as desired. Add just enough of the remaining cup of cooking liquid to obtain a soft, puddinglike consistency. (If more liquid is needed, add white wine or water.)

5. Using your sausage stuffer, stuff the mixture into the casings to make 6- to 8-inch links, or whatever length you prefer. Allow the sausages to air-dry for about 20 minutes, then place them in the refrigerator. (The boudin can also be frozen at this point.)

6. To eat, heat the boudin by grilling, steaming, roasting in a 400-degree oven, or searing in a hot pan with oil and a bit of water. (You can also smoke it.) Serve with Saltines, hot sauce, or the mustard of your choice.
Makes about 20 links.