There is an area just west of Lafayette, Louisiana that is known for its German heritage. Roberts Cove is at the center of it, and it is home to a long lineage of German immigrants who settled the Acadiana prairie in 1880. This was a little over a century after the French Acadians found their way to South Louisiana, having been expelled from the Canadian province known as Acadie. Over time, the Germans married into the French families of the region. And the two culinary cultures combine in today’s recipe for Alligator Sausage and Creole Red Onions – a German Cajun classic.
My longtime friend John Schneider is one of them. Ask John and he’ll tell you that he is Cajun through and through, having been raised in a large French-speaking family in South Louisiana. But, as is plainly obvious, the surname Schneider is not exactly of French ancestry. John is a Cajun of German heritage. Names like Hensgens, Nickel, Zaunbrecher, and Schneider are now familiar Cajun names, and over time, this cross-cultural gumbo of heritages has added color and spice to our unique culture.
The Acadiana foodways have been impacted by the German influence as well. Our sausage-making and smokehouse culinary culture is due to the many skilled German artisan butchers who settled in the northern parts of Acadiana as well as further east in St. Charles Parish near New Orleans. Many of our familiar sausages and methods of cooking with smoked meats are due to this German influence. Sausage-makers stretch across Acadiana, and many of these artisans have become known for a prized link that locals are passionate about. Folks swear by specialties like Kartchner’s smoky andouille sausage in Krotz Springs or Poche’s chaurice sausage in Poche Bridge. And it’s common for locals to argue over who has the best link. Is it Coleman’s smoked pork sausage in Iota or the syrup sausage at Nunu’s in Youngsville? Heck, I’ve been known to jump in the car and drive an hour northwest of Lafayette just to load up on Kermit Lejeune’s garlic sausage in Eunice.
Years ago, the German influence on the region had all but disappeared due mostly to intermarriage but also due to World War I. During the war years of the early 1900s there was much anti-German sentiment in rural Louisiana. The state legislature passed a law which made all expressions of German culture and heritage, especially the printed or spoken use of the German language, illegal throughout Louisiana. Those days are over now, and the pride of German heritage lives on. During the first weekend of October (October 3 and 4, 2015), the community of Roberts Cove celebrates Germanfest, a colorful event featuring food, music, and dance of the region.
Acadiana Table pays tribute to the Schneider family and all the Cajuns of German ancestry with a German Cajun recipe for Alligator Sausage and Creole Red Onions that celebrates this unique crossing of cultures. The German custom of braising sausages down into a rich, sweet onion-infused beer gravy served over spicy boiled potatoes is now a specialty seen in many rural Cajun recipes and by Creole cooks, too. And this Cajun recipe for Alligator Sausage and Creole Red Onions ups the ante by combining Savoie’s alligator sausage, sweet Creole red onions, bold Bayou Teche beer along with crab-boiled smashed potatoes–a unique linkage to the culinary ancestry of the region.
Willkommen to my Acadiana Table.
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 4 links smoked alligator sausage, such as Savoie’s or smoked pork sausage
- 4 medium red onions, peeled and sliced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 (12-ounce) bottle beer, such as Bayou Teche Biere or any stout ale
- 2 pounds small boiling potatoes
- 1 packet Louisiana crab boil, such as Zatarain’s
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
- In a large covered skillet over medium-high heat, add the oil. Add the sausage links and brown on all sides. Remove the sausage to a platter and keep warm. Add the onions to the skillet and stir while separating the slices into rings. Continue cooking until the onions are browned. Add the sausage back to the pan and pour in the beer. Lower the heat to a simmer and cover. Cook until the beer reduces and thickens, about 15 to 20 minutes. If needed, add water to the pan. Turn off the heat and keep warm.
- In a large pot over high heat, add the potatoes. Add enough water to cover the potatoes and add the crab boil along with a pinch of salt.. Bring to a boil and continue cooking until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a skewer. Remove the potatoes and strain through a colander. Add the warm potatoes to a large mixing bowl, and add the butter and horseradish. Using a potato masher, smash the potatoes into chunks as the butter melts. Add salt and pepper, and stir to combine.
- For serving, spread the potatoes over a large platter, and place the sausages on top. Spoon over the onions and beer gravy so that it soaks into the potatoes. Serve family-style with Creole mustard on the side and ice-cold beer to drink.
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