Troyes is a charming town in the Champagne region — about 100 miles southeast of Paris — with curving cobblestone streets, rows of medieval timber-frame houses, and a magnificent flamboyant Gothic cathedral. It’s also the capital of andouillette.
Andouillette has a dubious reputation and that’s because it smells, well, like shit. It’s a sausage made of tripe, highly-seasoned, and boiled for hours. The flavor is reminiscent of bologna (salty and highly seasoned) the texture of rubber bands (slippery and ropy).
Do you know what tripe is? I didn’t before I investigated andouillette. It’s stomach lining, pale, wrinkly and part of the digestive process (hence the smell). Most of the world eats it, but perhaps no other town values it as much as Troyes, where tripe sausages have their very own fan club — the Association Amicale des Amateurs d’Andouillette Authentique — which protects standards of production. If you see AAAAA on a restaurant menu, you know the andouillette has won the association’s seal of approval.
Where to eat andouillette in Troyes?
Patrick Maury (photo above) (28 rue Général de Gaulle, Troyes, tel: 03 25 73 06 84) is an award-winning charcutier in the heart of town. Since he took over the shop from his father in 1995, he and his sausages have won over seventy awards. They are well-deserved: my friend Sylvain — a Frenchman with a penchant for andouillette — proclaimed Maury’s the best he had ever tasted. Note: Maury does not participate in the AAAAA, because the association focuses mainly on industrial andouillette, while his are proudly artisanal (that is, handmade).
Lemelle (products found at Monoprix, LeClerc, and other supermarkets) is a family-owned factory producing excellent, AAAAA-winning andouillette since 1973.
Au Jardin Gourmand (31 rue Paillot de Montabert, Troyes, tel: 03 25 73 36 13) is a cozy restaurant with a book-lined dining room that resembles a library. The menu offers eleven preparations of andouillette, ranging from the simple — grilled or pan-fried — to the complex — adorned with cream and cheese sauces, or crowned with foie gras. Non-andouillette enthusiasts will find a small selection of tripe-free dishes like steak or fish — I have to admit, when I ate here, I had the grilled salmon.
After the jump: Find out how the sausage is really made! (Not for the faint of heart.)
Patrick Maury was kind enough to invite me into his spotless laboratoire for an andouillette demonstration. As I discovered, it all begins with half a slaughtered pig — Maury buys one once a week and makes 90% of his own merchandise.
After soaking and scalding the tripe, it’s cut into zigzagging, interconnected strips.
Seasonings are sprinkled onto the tripe strips: chopped onions, salt, pepper, nutmeg, Maury’s secret blend of spices, and a drizzle of Champagne and white vinegar. The mixture is left to marinate for two to three hours.
Years of experience have made Maury deft and sure-handed. To the left, are strips of marinated tripe, twisted together. To the right, the tripe after the “enrobement,” slipped into intestine casings to form sausages.
In the final step, the sausages simmer for at least five hours in a vegetable bouillon, losing about a third of their volume to attain the sleek, compact shape in the photo above. People flock to Troyes to buy Maury’s andouillettes: he sells between 1,300-1,500 pounds of them a week.
Hungry for more? Today’s post is a companion to my new book, Mastering the Art of French Eating, a food memoir that Library Journal called “an enjoyable and thoughtful read that sparkles with humor.”
And more from the series, Where to Eat in France.