Eat Here. Get Gas.

An old joke.  But in my neck of the woods, stopping at a gas station to eat is no joke.  People take this very seriously.

All across Acadiana, you can find gas stations and corner stores selling boudin and cracklins--great for breakfast or road trips.  Just in my small town, I can name at least 5 of these places.  Everyone has their favorite and will also tell you the one that ain't good, no.  And people sample the goods from anywhere and everywhere to find out which is the best.  No one thinks twice about buying food from a gas station or shack on the side of the road.

Last time a friend from Arkansas was down here, he stopped at every little place he came across on his return trip and bought boudin.  I can't imagine what he felt like by the time he got home, but he said he liked trying all the different styles.  No two recipes are the same and that's how it's supposed to be.  I mean what's the point if you're making the same exact thing as the place down the road?

Some of these little stores sell other meats too.  Andouille, pork sausage, smoked sausage, green onion sausage, garlic sausage.  These are usually old family recipes.  Most of these places are family run and some have been around for a couple of (or more) generations.

When my family comes to visit me "out in the country," they like to stop here and there for boudin, cracklins, andouille and smoked sausage.  They always travel with an ice chest.

There are also local boudin and sausage makers that sell outside of Louisiana in many grocery stores.  The two biggest brands that come to mind are Richard's (Ree-chard) and Savoie's (Sahv-wah).

Earlier this month, Mrs. Eula Savoie passed away.  She was the founder of Savoie's Sausage, starting the company as a little side-of-the-road grocery store.  Here's a nice article about how she started from the bottom up.

While boudin is best, I think, left alone and eaten as is, the various smoked sausages, tasso, and andouille found in my area can be used in many, many recipes.  Today, it's Sausage Etouffee...further proof that anything, not just crawfish, can be turned into an etouffee (smothered).  Be sure to use a good quality smoked sausage since it's the star of the dish.

Mise en place for Sausage Etouffee: flour and oil for your roux, smoked sausage, onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic, Tony's, other seasonings as desired, water or chicken stock.  This is for a brown Cajun etouffee.  If you'd like a red Creole style etouffee you'll also need a 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes OR a can of rotel.
Usually I start by making a roux like a good little Cajun girl.  I decided to try something different and brown the sausage first this time.  My thinking was that using the sausage drippings in my roux could only add flavor.
Remove the sausage from the pan and begin making a roux by heating vegetable oil in the same pan.  Scrape up any brown bits so they don't burn.
Sprinkle in the flour.  If you think you don't have the time for this, think again, cher!  A batch of roux this size takes very little time.  In fact, if you aren't careful it can get away from you fast, fast.
I use a peanut butter colored roux for this recipe.  You could go darker if you wanted.  Personally, I wouldn't go lighter than that though.
For step by step instructions on making a Cajun roux, look here.
Quickly add the chopped vegetables to the roux and cook until tender, about 15 minutes.  Stir now and then to keep the veg from sticking.
Toss the sausage back in, add the seasonings, and stir in chicken stock or water.  Don't use cold water or stock or your roux may separate. 

Today is a sad freezer stash of chicken stock is gone. 
How did I let that happen?

Cover and simmer for about 45 minutes.  I like to partially cover the pot.
Stir now and then, but you don't have to stand over this and babysit.
When it's almost done, check to see if you need more seasonings.  Also check the consistency.  If it's too thick, that's easily fixed--add more water or stock.  If it's too thin, that's no problem either.  Remove the lid and allow some of the liquid to cook off.

Serve over cooked white rice.
Sausage Etouffee
from Ms. enPlace

1 lb good quality smoked sausage
¼ c vegetable oil
¼ c (heaping) all purpose flour
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small or ½ of a large green bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped (if you have it on hand)
¾ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
½ tsp Tony’s Creole seasoning
about 1 cup of water or chicken stock *see note below
cooked rice

Cut sausage into half moons. Brown in a cast iron or stainless steel pot. Remove and set aside.

Add ¼ cup vegetable oil to the sausage drippings and heat. Sprinkle in the flour and begin making a roux. Stir the roux constantly, scraping at the bottom of the pot. If pools of oil form, sprinkle in more flour. Cook the roux, stirring, until it is a little darker than peanut butter.

Add the chopped vegetables and cook in the roux for about 15 minutes, until tender. Stir occasionally while vegetables cook.

Add sausage back to the pot, along with the seasonings and 1 cup of water. Stir to combine, cover, and simmer for 40-45 minutes. Stir occasionally. More water or stock can be added if sauce is too thick. If sauce seems too thin, remove lid. Serve over cooked white rice.
Note: this is a Cajun (brown) etouffee. To turn this into a Creole/New Orleans style (red) etouffee, reduce water or stock to ½-3/4 c and add 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes.