THE BIG 3- Scott, Louisiana may be the Boudin Capital of the World, but it is also a mecca for specialty meats and other main features for your next holiday dinner gathering thanks to three major shops. Photo by Jesse Brooks.
By Jesse Brooks
Holiday cooking is something people often stress too hard over or afraid to take risks with, but what is there is a way to use a cheat code for assembling your next Thanksgiving or Christmas meal?
This November, I recently noticed I hadn’t taken many days off of work and I realized that I need to get out of town for a stretch of days on a budget. My first instinct was to leave the state the state but I remembered suddenly that Louisiana is delicious and there are parts of it that I don’t visit enough.
From where I live in Hammond, Louisiana, Lafayette and other parts of Acadiana heartland are only about two hours away if traveling west of I-12 and I-10. Why not got and get lost in West Louisiana for a taste of Cajun culture?
Recently, my wife and I saw a short documentary produced by Munchies, a division of Vice Media, about boudin and how it became commercialized on YouTube. After going over trip ideas, I suggested, “Hey, why don’t we just do this?”
For anyone living in Louisiana and the south that doesn’t know what boudin is, bless your heart, it is a combination of pork, liver, rice, and green onion finely ground and placed into a sausage casing. In Cajun culture, it’s sort of a way to put a meal in a to-go form popular with working-class folks managing a clock or anyone that knows a good snack when they see one. San Fransico gave the world the burrito, New Orleans birthed the Po’ Boy, and Acadiana gave us boudin.
While in search of the best boudin, our journey took us west of Lafayette directly of off I-10 to Scott, recognized by the State of Louisiana as the “Boudin Capital of the World”. Directly off the interstate exit are the three most famous shops for boudin in the world, which is saying a lot considering it seems just about every gas station from Livingston to Houston, Texas sells it.
We did our sweep through and sampled high-quality links of boudin from Don’s Specialty Meats, Billy’s Boudin, and The Best Stop Supermarket which are all located right off the Scott I-10 exit. With each of our visits, we discovered that each shop was so much more than just multiple versions of a Cajun delicacy. These places were full-service stores you could spend days in considering all the options.
At their core, these three places are butcher shops selling meats made to order: prepackaged, prepackaged and pre-seasoned, and packaged frozen. Their position on the interstate has helped spread the flavor of Acadiana throughout the entire nation. All three shops are set up like small grocery stores with a section for ordering fresh cooked lunches and dinners and a grouping of tables and chairs for those that wish to dine in. There are sections of produce and basic groceries as well as cold drink walk-in coolers full of everything from local beer to R.C. Cola.
DESTINY- The iconic storefront of The Best Stop Supermarket in Scott, Louisiana. Photo by Jesse Brooks.
Over time these stores have become a grocery destination for anyone interested in stockpiling farm-raised and hunted game meat. If you are a novice and don’t pack your own ice chest to bring back your purchases over long distances, have no fear. Each store provides styrofoam ice chests and insulated bags for sale.
These stores have become a go-to destination as suppliers holiday feasts. However, last-minute shoppers beware, stock disappears fast.
Don’s was probably the biggest location in size and selection. In packaging, every cut of beef, chicken, pork, sausage, duck, etc. is available and marinated and seasoned to perfection. Many of these cuts are even stuffed with their famous boudin or etouffee. Don’s also sells a range of frozen soups, stews, gumbos, and side dishes for the perfect meal.
From Don’s, I purchased two thick pork chops stuffed with boudin and the results were two non-dry chops that were complemented by the stuffing of pork sausage.
Just like at Don’s, many of the selections found at Billy’s are quality cuts of meat and some are stuffed the good stuff. After our breakfast of their original fried boudin balls stuffed with pepper jack cheese, I bought a pack of two chicken breasts stuffed with boudin. The chicken and pork combo was a work of art.
The Best Stop has the widest selection of meat that reached well into the wild game spectrum. Their meat packages were heavier on the marinade than Don’s and Billy’s that leaned more on dry seasoning. Aside from the common beef, pork, and chicken, The Best Stop is well known for its seasoned rabbit and availability of deer, alligator, frog legs, and more.
From The Best Stop, I bought a pack of marinated and dry seasoned pork country ribs. After they sat in my fridge for a few days I froze them to keep them preserved. Days later, I prepared them in an Instant Pot pressure cooker with additional marinade to turn the ribs into pulled pork for burritos.
Now that I’m aware of what’s available, I fully plan on making it a yearly tradition for Thanksgiving or Christmas to come to Scott and stock up on boudin, gumbo materials, and everything needed for a holiday spread. I asked some employees about what working during the holidays is like and they warned me that it often gets so busy everything on the shelves disappears.
I also recommend that you head to Scott before your next big day in the kitchen. Come early and come often.