Boudin noir — blood sausage — is one of France’s oldest charcuterie preparations. It’s part of a sausage making tradition in France that has lasted well over 2000 years. “There is evidence of the activities of the lardarius, the Gaulish charcutier, in a number of bas-reliefs and inscriptions found at Narbone, Bordeaux and Cologne, and at Rheims, where a bas-relief shows two of these specialists at work…. All the items of charcuterie shown in the relief are easily identifiable: [blood sausages], strings of sausage, joints of pork, pig’s heads.”1 Although the raising and subsequent slaughter of the family pig was common in the French provinces up to the Second World War, today few families in the countryside raise their own pigs.2 The slaughtering process, usually performed in late-November, required the whole family plus a few neighbors to work from dawn to dusk to first kill and bleed the animal, and then to butcher the carcass. The majority of the pieces were used to produce meat items that would sustain the family through the winter.3,4 These items would include hams, sausages, pâtés, and other preparations which preserve the pig’s flesh long past the time where fresh meat would have spoiled.

When bleeding the pig, it was necessary to constantly move one of the forelegs to facilitate drainage and avoid the formation of clots that would prevent the blood from flowing.5 The warm blood had to be stirred to keep it from coagulating. This task often fell to the children. Today in France, the blood is removed from the pig with a vacuum system and immediately centrifuged to prevent it from solidifying.6 Pork blood consists of 77% water, 7.2% albumin, 14.5% globulins, 0.3% fibrin, 0.2% fat, and 0.8% other substances. Centrifuging breaks down the fibrin and inhibits coagulation. The blood will still coagulate if cooked to between 70 and 80 °C (158 to 176 °F).7

Blood sausages are very perishable and are often produced on a daily basis in French charcuteries.8 The sausage is produced in long, undivided lengths from which the patron purchases a cut piece, or in individual links. In the home kitchen, these sausages should be eaten within a day or two of preparation, or frozen until needed.

Each producer of blood sausages has his own recipe where the ingredients and proportions differ from those of the shop down the street. Traditional boudin de Paris will contain equal quantities of blood, fat, and cooked onions, but the proportions can vary widely. Different seasonings may be used, fruit or vegetables may be added, and various aromatics may be included. Common additions include apples and chestnuts.9

For the most part, the preparation of blood sausage is similar to making other types of pork sausage. The details of sausage preparation were published previously on this web site. The recipe accompanying this article leaves out many of the details already covered on that page.

One notable difference between the making of blood sausages and other types of sausages is that a stuffer is not used for filling blood sausages. For blood sausages, the casing is slid over the spout of a funnel and the sausage mixture is ladled into the funnel. In France, metal funnels appropriate for stuffing are available, but I was not able to find a suitable one in my neighborhood. However, I was able to fashion a usable system from the combination of a canning funnel, a disposable pastry bag, and a standard sausage stuffing tube. To make this sausage you will need a wide-mouth funnel with a straight spout.

The basic recipe for boudin noir presented herein is based on a recipe for the sausage presented by Charles Barrier, a Michelin-starred chef from Tours in the Loire Valley at the Ecole de Château d’Amondans in the mid-1990s. Chef Barrier’s original recipe didn’t use apples, but when I learned this recipe from Chef Frédéric Médigue at the Château, apples had been added and the fat reduced.

Blood sausages are commonly eaten fried or grilled and accompanied by potatoes and/or apples. In boudin grillé en compote de pommes citronnée et fruits secs, the sausage is simply grilled and served with a warm compote prepared from apples, lemon juice, and dried fruits. In émincé de boudin noir aux pommes (et aux pommes de terre), the blood sausage is sliced before grilling and is served with caramelized apple wedges and fried potatoes. In tarte au boudin noir et aux deux pommes, the same ingredients along with onions are combined into a pleasant tart. In bouchées croustillantes au boudin noir and feuilletés aux pommes et boudin, the sausage is used with apples to produce bite-size portions suitable for serving as an amuse-bouche. Lastly, crème de boudin noir, a soup, is the preparation that set me on my course of study to learn how to make my own blood sausages. The dish was originally called boudin maison servi comme un velouté, relevé au pigment antillais et quelques des d’ananas — homemade blood sausage prepared as a cream soup and seasoned with red peppers and pineapple — when I learned the recipe from Chef Médigue of Le Château l’Amondans in October, 2001. (I thought some simplification of the name was in order.)

  1. Toussaint-Samat, Maguelonne. A History of Food. Translated by Anthea Bell. Cambridge: Blackwell Publishers, 1994, p. 411.
  2. Ibid., p. 412.
  3. Ibid., p. 413.
  4. Grigson, Jane. Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery. New York: Penguin Books, 1967, p. 7.
  5. (in French).
  6. Frédéric Médigue, conversation with author, Amondans, France, October 2001.
  7. Marcel Cottenceau, Jean-François Deport, and Jean-Pierre Odeau. The Professional Charcuterie Series. Translated by Anne Sterling. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1991, p 1:198.
  8. Ibid., p. 200.
  9. Larousse Gastronomique (in English), New York: Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2001, p. 120.

boudin grillé en compote de pommes citronnée et fruits secs
3 T
unsalted butter
3 large
Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cut into 5‑mm (14‑in) dice
1 t
finely granulated sugar
freshly ground white pepper
150 ml (23 c)
dry white wine
dried apricots
pitted prunes
30 g (1 oz)
golden raisins
12 T
lemon juice
oil for frying
4 (about 150 g [13 lb] each)
blood sausages, pricked all over with a needle
12 T
lemon juice
1. Heat 2 T butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the apples and mix. Add the sugar and pepper and mix again. Cover and cook until the apples are tender and crush easily when stirring, about 10 minutes. Stir often.
2. At the same time, heat the remaining butter and the wine in a frying pan over high heat. Add the fried fruits and cook until the wine has evaporated.
3. In a different frying pan heat a little oil. Carefully cook the sausage until warm in the center. When warm, drain on absorbent paper.
4. To serve, stir the apples thoroughly to crush the apples. Mix in the lemon juice and the dried fruits. Divide between heated serving plates so there is 1 apricot and 1 prune on each serving. Place a sausage on each plate and serve.
Yield: 4 servings.
Ref: Cuisine Actuelle, February, 1999, page 21.

émincé de boudin noir aux pommes (et aux pommes de terre)
1 T
goose fat
2 (about 150 g [13 lb] each)
blood sausages, cut into 1‑cm (38‑in) thick rounds
1 T
unsalted butter
1 large
apple, peeled, cored, cut into eighths
pommes de terre:
1 T
goose fat
300 g (13 lb)
fingerlings, or other small potatoes, peeled, trimmed, cut into 3‑mm (18‑in) thick rounds
1 T
unsalted butter
1 small
shallot, finely diced
2 sprigs
flat‑leaf parsley, leaves only, minced
fine salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. For pommes: Preheat oven to 200°C (390°F). Melt the butter in a small nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Lightly brown each of the flat edges of the apple wedges. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake apples until tender, about 10 minutes. Set aside and keep warm.
2. For pommes de terre: Melt the goose fat in a nonstick frying pan over medium heat. If necessary, dry the potato slices with absorbent paper. Fry the potatoes until they are a deep golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove and drain on absorbent paper.
3. Melt the butter in a nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Sweat the shallots a bit, but do not brown. Add the parsley and mix. Add the potatoes and mix. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange on heated serving plates.
4. While the shallots are sweating, melt 1 T goose fat in a large nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Gently fry the sausage rounds for about a minute on each side. Arrange on the serving plates.
5. Place 4 apple wedges on each plate.
Yield: 2 servings.
Ref: Bernard Loiseau, Cuisine en Famille, page 184.

tarte au boudin noir et aux deux pommes
2 T
unsalted butter
1 medium (about 130 g [412 oz]yield)
new potato, peeled, 6‑mm (14‑in) dice
1 large (about 130 g [412 oz]yield)
golden delicious apple, 6‑mm (14‑in) dice
75 g (3 oz)
spinach leaves, very coarsely chopped
fine salt and freshly ground pepper
1 T
olive oil
1 large
yellow onion, peeled, thinly sliced
150 g (13 lb)
puff pastry
12 T
Dijon‑style mustard
160 to 200 g (13 to 12 lb)
blood sausage
1. Preheat oven to 205°C (400°F).
2. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the potato and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes. Add the apple and continue cooking until the apples are tender, about 5 minutes more. Add the spinach and mix until the spinach has wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the mixture to a shallow bowl and set aside in the refrigerator until needed.
3. In the meantime, heat the oil in a second saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a shallow bowl and set aside in the refrigerator until needed.
4. Roll the puff pastry to a size large enough to cover a 19‑cm (712‑in) tart pan and leave so extra for folding in. Trim the excess dough. Fold the perimeter over to create a double thickness of dough at the sides of the tart pan.
5. Brush the base of the dough with the mustard. Spread the spinach mixture over the base and press down lightly. Cut the sausage into 1‑cm (38‑in) thick slices. Arrange the slices in concentric circles on top of the spinach mixture. Strew the onions over the sausage and pat down lightly.
6. Bake the tart for 20 to 30 minutes until the pastry has puffed up and is a nice color.
7. Remove the tart from the pan shortly after it is removed from the oven.
Yield: 3 to 4 servings.
Ref: Cuisine et Vins de France, October, 1999, page 33.

bouchées croustillantes au boudin noir
about 14 cm (512 in)
blood sausage
2 or 3 sheets
brik (or spring roll wrapper)
1 large
egg yolk, beaten with a little water
oil for frying
1. Cut the sausage into twelve 1‑cm (38‑in) thick rounds. Cut the apple quarter crosswise into 1‑mm (132‑in) thick, quarter circle‑shaped slices. The radius should be equal to the diameter of the sausage. Cut the brik into rectangular pieces equal to the diameter of the sausage in width and equal to twice the diameter plus twice the thickness in length.
2. Brush one side of the brik rectangles with a little egg yolk. Place a piece of apple in the center of the band and then a piece of sausage on the apple. Fold the band over the sausage so the ends of the band overlap.
3. Heat a 2‑mm (116‑in) depth of oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Fry the packets, overlay side down. When brown on the first side, turn over and brown on the second side. Drain on absorbent paper.
4. Serve immediately.
Note: Serve as an amuse‑bouche or with a spinach salad and a dressing made from olive oil, sherry vinegar, and mustard.
Yield: 2 to 3 servings.
Ref: Guide Cuisine, May, 1998, page 32.

feuilletés aux pomme et boudin
150 g (13 lb)
puff pastry
1 extra‑large
egg yolk, beaten with a little water
onion, very thinly sliced with the integrity of the slices maintained, 18 slices needed
14 large
apple, very thinly sliced crosswise, 18 slices needed
about 10 cm (4 in)
blood sausage, cut into 5‑mm (14‑in) thick rounds, 18 needed
1. Preheat the oven to 210°C (410°F).
2. Roll the pastry on a silicone‑rubber pan liner to a thickness of 2 mm (332 in). Using a fluted roller, cut the pastry into 4‑cm (112‑in) squares. Remove and discard the excess pastry pieces.
3. Brush the pastry squares with a little egg yolk. On each square, place an onion slice, an apple slice, and a sausage slice.
4. Bake for about 20 minutes until the pastry puffs up and the edges brown.
5. Allow the baked squares to sit for a minute or two before serving.
Note: For a fancier serving, place a large caper or a thin slice of green olive on each serving.
Yield: 18 pieces.
Ref: Guide Cuisine, January, 2001, page 4.

crème de boudin noir
1 T
olive oil
1 t
thinly sliced red chili pepper
1 T
thinly sliced red bell pepper
1 T
thinly sliced onion
1 clove
garlic, thinly sliced
150 g (13 lb)
boudin noir, peeled, 1‑cm (38‑in) dice
325 ml (113 c)
fond Jacqueline
3 T
heavy cream
1 extra‑large
egg yolk
coarse salt
2 T
red bell pepper, peeled, 2‑mm (116‑in) dice
2 T
fresh (or candied) pineapple, 2‑mm (116‑in) dice
1. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the two peppers, onion, and garlic. Sweat for a few minutes until they start to soften. Add the sausage meat and vegetable stock, increase heat to high, and bring to a boil.
2. Transfer the soup to a blender and puree until very smooth. Strain the soup into a clean saucepan.
3. If necessary, reheat the soup over medium heat. Combine the cream with the egg yolk. Temper this mixture with some of the hot soup and then add the mixture to the soup pot. Whisk together over high heat until the soup starts to boil and is thickened slightly.
4. Divide the diced pepper and pineapple among the serving bowls. Do the same with the soup.
Note: The original name of this recipe was: Boudin maison servi comme un velouté, relevé au pigment antillais et quelques des d’ananas.
Yield: 2 servings.
Ref: Frédéric Médigue, Le Château d’Amondans, Amondans, France, October, 2001.

The following recipe produces about 700 grams (24 ounces) of finished sausage. Depending on the diameter of the casing used, the final length will be between 60 and 75 centimeters (24 and 36 inches). It can be prepared in a single length or twisted into individual links prior to poaching. Note: click on the illustration below for a slide show about making boudin noir.

120 cm (4 ft)
medium hog casing
350 g (34 lb)
finely minced onions
90 g (6 T)
75 g (12 large)
peeled, cored, and minced apple
100 g (312 oz)
pork fatback
150 g (13 lb)
lean pork
6 g (14 oz)
minced garlic
10 g (13 oz)
minced flat‑leaf parsley
12 g (2½ t)
fine salt
2 g (1 t)
ground black pepper
14 t
ground nutmeg
14 t
quatre épices
90 ml (6 T)
whole milk
1 T
375 g (13 oz)
fresh pork blood
1. Sweat the onions in 75 grams lard over medium-low heat until they start to melt, about 30 minutes. Drain. Cool to room temperature before mixing with the other ingredients.
2. Sweat the apple in 15 grams lard over medium heat until it starts to color, about 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature before mixing with the other ingredients.
3. Grind the fatback and meat through a fine blade.
4. Soak sausage casing in warm water for 15 minutes. Rinse inside of casing with cold water.
5. Combine the cooked onions and apples with all the remaining ingredients, except the blood, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle. Use the lowest speed to thoroughly mix the ingredients. Add the blood and mix. Immediately stuff mixture into the casing. Do not overstuff the sausage.
6. Place the sausage in a large pot. Fill the pot with cold water. Cover the sausage with a drop lid. Heat the water to 85 to 90 °C (185 to 195 °F) and maintain it in this range. Poach the sausage for 18 minutes and until the internal temperature reaches at least 74 to 77 °C (165 to 170 °F). Carefully lift the sausage out of the water and place on a baking sheet. Rinse the sausage with cold water. Cool it in a refrigerator. Wrap sausage in plastic wrap until ready to use.