02 May 2010

Flat beans and Caribbean sausages

Yesterday Walt went to the market in Saint-Aignan. He came back with a bunch of white asparagus, of course, and two trays of local strawberries. In addition, he went to see our favorite charcutière and picked up some boudin antillais — Caribbean-style blood sausage — as well as some good smoked sausages we can have with our springtime collard greens.

By the way, did you know that the origin of the terms charcutier and charcuterie is the expression « chair cuite »? « Chair » means "flesh" or "meat" and « cuite » means "cooked" — the « chair-cuitier » specialized in cooked meats, including pâtés, terrines, and sausages. A charcuterie is a French-style delicatessen.

That was an aside.

Boudin antillais, a spicy Caribbean version of blood sausage

I've looked at a lot of recipes for boudin noir — known as "blood sausage" or "black pudding" in England — and boudin antillais, the version made in places including Martinique and Guadeloupe — the Antilles. The sausage is basically a mixture of bread crumbs, onion or garlic, spices, herbs, and pork blood stuffed into casings and poached until it's cooked through. Here's a recipe in French.

Whether or not that sounds appetizing, let me say that it is delicious when it is correctly prepared. Walt cooked the boudins slowly on our new electric grill, out on the front deck. They just need to be heated through, since they are cooked when you buy them. You can cook them slowly in a pan with a little oil, poach them in simmering water, grill them, or even heat them in the microwave. They're good as a first or main course.

To go with the spicy blood sausage, we had some Italian flat beans. This seems to be their season. Flat beans are also called Romano beans, I read. I don't remember how easy they were to find when we lived in California, but they are plentiful here in the markets in late spring and early summer.

You "top and tail" the beans and then cut them into one-inch pieces before steaming them or cooking them in boiling water for about 10 minutes. They have a good firm texture and a nice sweet beany taste when they are just done. You can season them any way you would season regular haricots verts.

Italian flat beans with oven-roasted potatoes

We wanted to eat them basically plain to go with the spicy sausages, so I just tossed them in some melted butter with salt and pepper. I had some oven-roasted new potatoes left over from the day before, so I cut them in half and heated them up on top of the beans.

The boudins antillais were very spicy, with a good kick. I'm sure they had a lot of cayenne pepper in them, along with cinammon, cloves, and maybe nutmeg. The spiciness makes the Antilles version of blood sausage less gamy and more appealing than the plain French version of boudin noir. Try it if you can find some.


  1. Black pudding is often part of the great English "fry-up", otherwise known as the "full English" breakfast - grilled bacon, pork sausages, tomatoes and mushrooms with fried eggs and of course the black pudding.
    This happens to be what we often have at about 11am on a Sunday as an occasional treat - including today !

  2. I love boudin but have never tried the spicy boudin antillais.
    BTW, on health shows and articles, they are mentionning more and more the wonderful benefits of eating greens (collard, mustard, turnip...greens). I am lucky to love them but apparently a lot of people don't.

  3. I grew up eating "Blood" sausages in Austria and still love them to this day.
    Here in Canada they are much harder to find and if I cook them, usually my family abandons me until I am done eating....

  4. I am still afraid of boudins noirs :)

    My niece in Nice asked me last week what foods she should be sure to experience before she goes back to the U.S. in June. I was kind of at a loss as to what to say! She has already been trying lots of cheeses, and making adventurous salads, but I couldn't think of a way to suggest any particular thing... so, I gave her a link to your blog, and Walt's, and suggested she wade through your cuisine posts, and your cheese posts :)

    I don't think she'll go for boudin noir though, either.:))


  5. I didn't know the origin of our French nouns and adjectives "charcutier/charcutière", lol ! Thanks, Professor Ken ;-)

    I love "boudin noir" with cooked apples or/and genuine "purée de pommes de terre", it's great ;-) ! "Le boudin antillais" is good too but a bit too spicy for a consumption on a "regular" basis ;-) ! Bises normandes, pas antillaises hélas ;-) ! Mary

  6. My grandmother, who was from Brittany, would "brown" the boudin in a cast iron pan until the skin was nice and crispy and then smother it in lovely creamy mashed potatoes. The contrast of crispy and creamy, spicy and bland was yummy.

  7. I LOVE asparagus, but my all time favorite vegetable is white asparagus. I've never seen it for sell in fresh bunches.

  8. aaack ! boudin noir: my first (and only) experience was at Monoprix -- they had loads of samples out that day of all sorts of food. i thought the black piece was a very soft chocolate cake -- quelle surprise !

  9. I love blood sausage!
    My grandfather would make it.

  10. Hi Mimi, have you ever had the spicy hot Caribbean version of boudin noir? I wonder if you can get it in Boston.

  11. Hello Ken,
    the people in Caribbean Islands that were once settled by France(St. Lucia, Dominica, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago) make this with blood and bread crumbs seasoned and stuffed in the intestines. In Barbados where only the British settled make it made with blood and without. They stuff it with seasoned sweet potatoes and they call the bloodless one white pudding and serve it with pickled pig's feet and cucumbers called souse. Pudding and souse is a traditional Saturday meal here in Barbados. I quite like the white pudding.


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