Learn more about andouille, a pork sausage that originated in France and became a Louisiana staple across the Atlantic.
Andouille (pronounced aan·doo·ee) is a spicy smoked pork sausage from the provinces of Brittany and Normandy in northern France. A heavily spiced version of andouille is a key ingredient in Cajun cuisine in the U.S. state of Louisiana.
French andouille and Cajun andouille are not the same sausages, and they can’t be used interchangeably. French andouille has a gray color and tastes porky and earthy; Cajun andouille has a pink color and a smoky, garlicky flavor.
The traditional ingredients for the preparation of French andouille are pork chitterlings, tripe, throat, chest, head, and/or heart, onions, wine, salt, and herbs. In some recipes, white wine is also added.
For the preparation of French andouille, the pork is ground, seasoned, and then mixed with the other ingredients. The mixture is stuffed into the sausage casing, poached, and cooled.
In French cuisine, the andouille sausage is an ingredient in the preparation of gratin, a baked dish with potatoes, and cassoulet, a slow-cooked stew with duck, sausage, and white beans.
On the other side of the Atlantic, a heavily spiced version of the andouille sausage is a staple of Cajun cuisine, brought to Louisiana by the Acadians—the early French settlers of Acadia—in the 19th century.
Cajun andouille is made with pork butt and/or shoulder, lard, garlic, thyme, red pepper, cayenne, black pepper, and salt. The pork is ground, mixed with the rest of the ingredients, and stuffed into the casing. Then, the sausage is smoked twice.
The double smoking of Cajun andouille is what gives it its distinctive smoky flavor and makes it unique compared to all other regional American sausages. It is an essential ingredient for gumbo and jambalaya, but it can also be found in the company of red beans ‘n’ rice.
How to Remove the Casing From Andouille
As with any pre-cooked sausage, removing the casing from andouille can be tricky.
To remove the casing from andouille, cut the sausage from one end to the other with the tip of a small, sharp knife. Turn the sausage cut-side down on the cutting board, then grab the casing with your thumb and forefinger, and pull it off.
Another way to make it easier to remove the casing off an andouille sausage is to place the sausage in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes. When you take the sausage out of the freezer, the casing becomes stiffer and thus much easier to remove.
How to Cook Andouille
Andouille is usually pre-cooked. However, precooked sausages can still harbor disease-causing bacteria on the surface, so andouille needs to be heated through, for a few minutes until steaming hot, for safe consumption.
Andouille tastes its best when baked in a properly preheated 350°F (180°C) oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or grilled over indirect heat—that is, away from the embers or over an unlit burner—for give or take the same amount of time.
If it’s too hot to bake in the oven or you don’t have time to fire up the grill, you can also fry andouille sausages in a cast iron skillet greased with a very small amount of cooking oil, just enough to make the bottom and sides of the skillet shiny.
Last but not least, andouille can be boiled or stewed without using any other cooking method. When it is, the sausage releases some of its juices and fats into the cooking liquid, adding a richness of aroma and flavor to the soup or stew.
How Long Is Andouille Sausage Good For?
As a general rule of thumb, andouille sausage should be stored in the fridge for consumption before the best before date and in the freezer for consumption after the best before date.
Cooked andouille sausage shouldn’t be left out for more than 1-2 hours at room temperature, or disease-causing bacteria (the kind that we cannot see, smell, or taste) may grow to dangerous levels inside it and make it unsafe to eat.
Refrigerated, cooked andouille sausage stays good for 3 to 4 days. Although the sausage will remain safe to eat almost indefinitely in the freezer, it will only keep its best quality for 6 to 9 months.