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Cashew Chicken

January/February 2017 Issue

Ca c'est bon!

Johnson’s Boucanière in Lafayette links the past with present,
creating authentic flavors.

The people of southwest Louisiana are passionate about their boudin (boo-dan), each tightly guarding their family boudin recipes — recipes as unique as fingerprints — like treasures passed down from generation to generation.

Boudin

Above: Boudin paired with rich gumbo.

Below: The setting may be humble, but the boudin and smoked meats are delicious at Johnson’s Boucanière.

Restaurant

Johnson’s Boucanière (smokehouse) in Lafayette, La., traces its recipe for boudin back to 1948 and Johnson’s Grocery in Eunice, La. The family’s boudin was wildly popular with locals and visitors, making Johnson’s Grocery a veritable institution until its closing in 2005. Today, Lori Walls, the granddaughter of Johnson’s Grocery founder Arnestor Johnson, is keeping the tradition alive by offering Johnson’s treasured boudin at the smokehouse she opened in 2008.

Located in downtown Lafayette, Johnson’s Boucanière is just a stone’s throw from the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist and a short distance from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. The building is of fairly recent construction, but the area used to place and pick up food orders is really cramped. Good thing you don’t have to wait inside for your food; in fact, customers are encouraged to wait outside under the covered wrap-around porch and dining area until their names are called.

This is very casual dining to say the least, but don’t let that deter you because the food really is worth it. Johnson’s Boucanière offers some of the best smoked meats you’ll find in south Louisiana — brisket and sausage are particularly fine. But they still hang their hat on the boudin.

In its simplest form, boudin is a rice and meat mixture stuffed inside a sausage casing. There are beaucoup recipes for boudin out there with all sorts of adaptations, including beef and seafood and chicken, but I’m a traditionalist — I like my boudin with pork and liver. On this front, Johnson’s delivers. There also is an amount of spiciness to their boudin that isn’t overwhelming or lasting, but has just enough heat to make you take notice.

Keeping true to their family tradition, Johnson’s boudin is steamed, not smoked, which gives it the perfect texture and the right level of moistness to allow you to squeeze the boudin out of the casing right into your mouth. Of course, you’re free to cut into the casing with a knife and scoop out the filling with a fork, but that’s no fun.

I recommend pairing the boudin with a bowl of the chicken and sausage gumbo. The brown roux has a wonder flavor and texture you would expect from a Cajun kitchen and the handmade sausage is spectacular. I can also recommend the pulled brisket; it’s absolutely delicious.

Johnson’s Boucanière advertises that it uses the recipes and techniques developed by Johnson’s Grocery to make and smoke all of its specialty meats, which include pork sausage, garlic pork sausage, mixed beef and pork sausage, turkey sausage, pork tasso, turkey tasso, and beef jerky.

Johnson’s Boucanière is open Tuesday–Saturday for breakfast and lunch (closed Sunday and Monday). In addition to sandwiches and plates, soft drinks and a small selection of desserts — including a tasty bread pudding — also are offered.

Don Redman is associate editor of AAA Southern Traveler.

BEFORE YOU GO

Johnson’s Boucanière
1111 St. John St.
Lafayette, LA 70501
(337) 269-8878

Hours: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday–Friday; 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday and Monday




Follow Boudin Trail

When visiting Lafayette, check out one of the food tours, including the self-guided Cajun Boudin Trail.

Bring your cooler along to take some of the tasty boudin or other Cajun specialties home. Many stops along the trail offers frozen packs of boudin for such purposes. Reheat by steaming, grilling, simmering, or baking.

 


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