Leighann Smith, head of the meat department at Cochon Butcher in New Orleans, has been nicknamed the meat mama and rightly so. Leighann came to Louisiana with butchering in mind and immediately applied for a job at Cochon Butcher, a gourmet sandwich and charcuterie shop that specializes in house made meats. Though she learned the basics of her craft from reading books she has expertly honed her skills working full time at Butcher.
I met with Leighann, on a recent trip to New Orleans, and was immediately taken in by her hospitality and laid back, fun-loving personality. In the shop merely 5 minutes, I was handed an apron and gloves and put to work.
Leighann graciously spent her morning teaching me how to make boudin, the classic Louisiana sausage made of marinated stewed pork shoulder, savory seasoning and long grain rice.
She even showed me how to manually operate the vertical sausage stuffer...
and although it was hot to touch as it came out of the horn I successfully made my first sausage coil under her guidance.
Naturally, tasting was on my mind all morning and thankfully Leighann had some boudin ready for us to try! We shared a plate of the creamy dense sausage with a side of house made Germain style mustard and pickles. It was rich in flavor with hints of spice and paired perfectly with the spicy whole grain mustard made with Abita beer.
Part of being head butcher at Cochon Butcher means Leighann is also in charge of the charcuterie. Rows and rows of specialty meats at various stages of the drying process hang from the ceiling in a small room above the store which unfortunately I couldn't photograph. I did however get to try some of Leighann's creations including her yummy fennel salami.
Our time together could have ended there and I still would have been as happy as a pig in sh**...pardon the pun. But just as we were about to leave this happened.
To be continued...