Boudin Blanc d’Avranches
White Boudin from Avranches
Boudin Blanc, Beta version. An emulsified chicken sausage with fatback, onions and a panade, poached and then browned in duck fat. Upon returning from a Labor Day weekend on what a generation ago was an entirely sustainable 275 acre farm in southwestern Virginia, 8lbs of industrial Purdue chicken-ish breasts and thighs were inexplicably acquired. In a desperate though epicurean effort to transform the offending burlap anthropomorphism of poultry into comestible silk, a resourceful boudin blanc recipe was developed based on traditional regional French varieties befitting of the cupboard and previous intrepid experimentations : Boudin blanc d’Avranches, from the northwestern Manche department in lower Normandie.
Measurements were made based on the weight of the suspiciously yellow lab-raised protein do determine proportions of fatback, onion and bread/cream panade (French boudin designation can not exceed 5% starch content). The onions were sweated in foie gras fat with chili pepper, salt and lavender until soft, then cooked uncovered to evaporate any remaining water. The dried bread was soaked in cream and the chilled fatback was diced. All was ground though the small die and then puréed with the help of water and cream*, seasoned, paddled and pressed into hog casings. The boudins were poached in seasoned water (salt, chili, bay leaf, lavender, garlic) for 40 minutes, which in hindsight may have been twice too long. They were left to cool in the liquid.
To serve, the boudins were removed from their casings and browned in duck fat with garlic and lavender. While not entirely unpleasant, the chicken flavor was muted, perhaps due to the inferior product used or the traditional fillers.
Initial shortcomings and screw ups: The cooked onions should have been moistened with a splash of sherry vinegar and some chicken glace to give a more pronounced poultry flavor.
*As for the texture, the forcemeat should have been ground twice through the fine die and then puréed without cream and more liquid (from the onions and panade) or whole milk to give a smoother final product as with the cervelas. The boudin’s texture was ever so slightly shamefully gritty, which may also have been a result of the cream breaking in the food processor. Eureka? In haste to find an authentic, vintage recipe, the properties to cream and modern technology were overlooked. Cream turns to butter in a food processor. The original recipe, which predated Pierre Verdun’s 1963 food processing gizmo –now generically dubbed the “Robot Coupe”, yet pronounced “Row-beau Coop”- called for pounding the forcemeat through a pedestrian sieve, just as generations dating back to Taillevent had done.