On the boudin trail in Louisiana
Just outside of Lafayette, Louisiana sits one of the meatiest destinations you can ever find on a road trip. Welcome to Scott, the boudin capital of the world.
There a some stretches of road that make a road trip positively tedious. Like the very flat, very uninspired section of Hwy 71 that connects Austin to Houston. Aside from one awesome Buc-cee’s and a giant squirrel statue selling pecans near Bastrop, there is very little to see, with a total lack of unique landmarks that would make you pull over to explore. In a word: yawn.
Then there are memorable drives like the one from Baton Rouge to Scott, Louisiana. You cross over the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge, roughly twenty miles of raised bridge interstate over bayous and swamps, punctuated with Spanish Moss-draped Cypress trees. It’s everything you ever hoped to see after reading all those Louisiana tourist guides and sitting through several seasons of True Blood. Once you’re through Lafayette, the entire concept of “car snacks” takes on a whole new meaning.
Though most of the I-10 corridor in Louisiana is known for it’s various boudin stops, the town of Scott has the greatest concentration of reputable ones and of course carries the official title of “Boudin Capital of the World”. There’s a bunch of options right off the interstate, including Don’s and Billy’s, but your best bet is to pull right off the highway and head about two miles north up to The Best Stop. And hey, they don’t call it that for nothin’.
The famous Boudin stores offer a combo of both ready to eat, fryolated goods and meat market offerings for you to prepare at home. The Best Stop’s refrigerator display cases are packed with all manner of stuffed, wrapped and seasoned porky products, including chaudin, a sort of cajun version of haggis, where a pork stomach is stuffed with seasoned mince pork.
Sure, they have all the staples you’d expect, like tasso, andouille, head cheese and of course boudin. Lots of boudin. A whole refrigerator full of frozen boudin. Probably because they sell 10,000 pounds of it a week. And for those not in the know, boudin is that classic Cajun pork & rice sausage. It’s delicious but the texture can be a little strange for the uninitiated.
The Best Stop have some seriously tempting “probably could pretend you made these yourself when your mates come over” items like jalapeño cream cheese stuffed, bacon wrapped pork tenderloins. Hell yeah!
Okay okay, let’s refocus. If you live in Lafayette, you already know about this place and probably shop there. But we’re just driving through on the way to a boozy weekend in the Big Easy, right? Ain’t nobody got time to drag no meat filled cooler around with them. We want tasty satisfaction and we want it now!
You must treat yo’self to a boudin ball (a boudin centre with a firm and crispy exterior). Like, someone actually thought “oh hey you know what? This stuff tastes so damn good that we’re just gunna straight up leave it out of the casing and get it into the fryer. Win”. And they were right.
But my absolute, complete, totally indulgent and heart attack inducing favorite snack is without a doubt Cracklins. Incredible morsels of pork flesh, fat and skin chopped into man-bite size pieces and flash fried in yet more fat until you are left with an impossibly crisp and salty treat. They are more intense than a pork rind because of the fat and meat layer. You will find it exceptionally difficult to stop cramming your hand in to the bag, but you must exercise restraint with these heavenly chunks, otherwise you will make yourself ill. My advice? Grab 1/4 pound, chomp merrily on a few pieces then hide the bag away. A few hours later when future-you remembers you have more, you’ll completely love past-you for being so thoughtful.
Oh and, make sure you have soda/water/diet Dr Pepper available. You’re gunna need it after that massive sodium hit.
The Best Stop? Damn right it is.
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