It had been several hours since our breakfast pastries, and we'd hit terrible traffic in Houston (WHY would I-10 be down to ONE LANE on a holiday weekend? WHY?), and we were getting a mite peckish. Lucky we'd hit Louisiana, the state that in my considered opinion is the king of roadfood.
Scrambling a bit (our usual stop, Poche's, was still more than an hour down the road, and tummies were a'grumblin') I found the Boudin Link guys on Logan's iPhone, and they very super highly recommended a place called the Sausage Link in Sulphur.
And yes, that is a sausage in an apron beckoning us in to eat his brethren. Isn't there some rule (Calvin Trillin?) about restaurants featuring anthropomorphic representations of their food always being delicious?
We passed several other wonderful looking meat markets on the way from the interstate to the Sausage Link. All of them were ramshackle and inviting, and all of them would process your deer for you. The Link was no exception. It looks like they also do tamales and chicken fried steak, but we were there for the Cajun.
The inside is absolutely bare-bones, with an ordering window in front of you as you enter and tables set with the obligatory roll of paper towels. There's a freezer case well worth exploring in the back, with boneless stuffed poultry of all kinds and stuffed pork chops, as well as plainer cuts of meat.
(Sausage and fried stuff and more sausage after the jump)
I left the ordering to the others while I stared at the freezer case and the open shelving unit, stocked with all sorts of hot sauces and condiments made in-house as well as local pickles and jams. Total fun.
We sat down, and soon enough our table was covered with food. This meal was a snack in name only. First up - boudin, of course! Two links of spicy, two of mild.
Er... I think I may have preferred this boudin to Poche's. I have trouble describing this sausage, but basically it's a rice and meat (usually pork, often with lots of offal) mixture, heavily spiced with cayenne and onion and bell pepper and celery. Some places have drier boudin, some wetter. Sometimes the casing is super-thick, so you squeeze the filling into your mouth; sometimes, like at the Sausage Link, the casing is thinner and you can just bite off the link. I prefer the latter.
The flavoring here was so good. Both links were heavily seasoned, though the spicy was definitely hotter. There was onion and pepper and a bit of porky liveryness, with a lot of rice. Love. And their amazing chunky, sweetly spicy red and pickly green pepper hot sauces added so much to the flavor, we had to buy out their stock.
But no way were we done. Next, we tested out the restaurant's fryer.
The jalapenos were stuffed with cheese and fried to a nice crispness, and the yam sticks tasted like mashed sweet potato fritters. They came topped with a generous poof of powdered sugar. I couldn't tell if the yams had actually been mashed, or just cut into sticks and then cooked so long they were falling apart; whichever it was, the contrast between the soft interior and crunchy exterior was fun.
But the boudin balls. Take that boudin stuffing, bread it (in what looks like a fried chicken breading) and fry it.
Oh my. These aren't the perfunctory boudin balls you often find dying under the heat lamps around this part of the country; these were fried just so to order. These could totally stand up to some of the best arancini we had in Sicily; they were that good. Moist, ricey porky middle, thin layer of crunchy batter... the perfect giant fried snack.
I'd highly recommend the Sausage Link if you're driving between Houston and Lafayette on I-10. I know we'll be back, to stock up on more hot sauce and try their other menu offerings - always with some boudin balls, though. A big thumbs up to the guys at the Boudin Link for the recommendation - what a resource!
The Sausage Link (no website, and no Urbanspoon) 2400 E. Napoleon, Sulphur LA. 337.625.2030. Stop in for a boudin ball!
We hopped back into the car and got the Impala heading east again along I-10. Even though the four of us were just about full, we had another stop to make - the Best Stop, in Scott, Louisiana. Our travel buddies Crystal and Justin had to have more than ONE kind of boudin on this road trip, didn't they? Right?
So, an hour later and still kinda full, we pulled up.
Encouraging! I love walkup windows situated right in the parking lot. Next door was their meat market and little grocery store, where you could pick up some dry ice and canned tuna if you needed to. Logan made a beeline for the meat counter while the three of us wandered the aisles.
Again, there was a wide variety of specialty meats available. I'd read that this was a way the small Cajun markets fought back against big box stores - by offering interesting, mostly ready-made meats that took some skill to prepare. Thus, creations like the Turducken. Here, they were selling stuffed beef tongue, stuffed quails (which were stuffed with pork - seems rude to me, heh), and marinated rabbit. Cool, right?
We came out of there with a bag of so-so fried pork cracklins (they were kind of dry - I think Poche's does better), two sacks of frozen andouille that looks fat and juicy and that we won't eat until Christmas, a baggie of soft, salty-spicy good beef jerky, and two links of boudin.
Sorry for this picture; we were in a bit of a hurry by this time and the light in the car wasn't great.
Their boudin was quite good, but I preferred the Sausage Link's. Best Stop's is the kind with the thick natural casing that you squeeze out into your mouth. It was nicely flavored, with a good hit of vinegary spice, and had more meat than the Sausage Link's. I'll have to go back next time and not be as full already, as I could only bring myself to eat two bites of this probably stellar specimen.
And there you have the problem with traveling through southwest Louisiana. There are so many ridonkulously tasty places to stop and eat, and they're all on top of each other, so you have to choose carefully and not go overboard with the ordering. HA.
I can't wait to have that andouille in Christmas gumbo!
The Best Stop is in Scott, LA (basically Lafayette) at 615 Hwy. 93 North. 337.233.5805.
We spent a good chunk of the next few hours trying to go around the awful traffic in Baton Rouge and managed to make it into Mandeville, tired and hungry again, at about 7:30 - turning what's normally an 8-9 hour drive into an 11 hour one. If there's one silver lining about sitting in traffic, though, it's that you get enough time to notice things like this, scramble for your camera, and take a couple of quick pictures before traffic gets moving again.
Next up - OYSTERS! And more oysters!
And I'm off to a tasting at Red's Porch - let's see how this place brings it.