The 3 Best French Meats You’ll Want to Eat Everyday
When people think about French cuisine, they usually think of the rich, creamy dishes that taste like heaven and are often laden with cheeses.
While that’s a definite staple, many people tend to overlook the wealth of delicious, cured meats and sausages that the French have created and perfected throughout the centuries.
In French, the “charcuterie plate,” an appetizer of French dried, cured meats and sausages, is very popular at cocktail parties and cafes. If you want to enjoy delicious, flavorful meat, you should try and get your hands on this food.
But with so many offerings in France in general, how do you know which are the best French meats? This is especially true because the French love to eat meat from other regions as well, including Spain and Italy.
If you want authentic French cuisine, then these are the three best French meats that you’ll definitely want to try when you’re in France.
Jambon de Bayonne
This is perhaps the quintessential French dry cured ham. It is definitely the most popular of all French hams, as it is enjoyed throughout the country.
This meat is prepared by air drying and salting the meat that was made traditionally near the Pyrenees.
In order to create fantastic jambon de bayonee, farmers need to follow very strict and specific regulations.
For this reason, there are only eight distinct breeds that can be used in making this meat. The other regulations revolve around the pigs’ transport, fat content, diet and care. There are also other stringent requirements, such as the necessity that the ham only be salted from the Audor River basin.
The jambon de bayonne is cured for roughly 5 – 10 months until it has a slight sweetness and nearly no salt taste. Depending on the region, of course, you can have a wide variety of flavor profiles for the meat.
It is also quite difficult for people outside of France to get a hold of it, which only speaks to the amount of regulation there is about this cured meat.
This type of meat is dry-cured and fermented (like salami). When they dry-cure meat, they simply use salt to preserve it. In the process of curing the meat, as the sausage ages, healthy, natural molds form on the outside of the casings to stop any bad bacteria from contaminating the sausage.
While the casings, which are covered in this mold, can be removed by diners, it is often encouraged that you leave the casings on to get the full flavor experience.
Although the other meats on this list have a great balance of many ingredients, many chefs create saucisson sec with merely garlic spices and black pepper. There are some variations on this simplified theme, however.
In Alsace, their saucisson is normally made with much more spices, including cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice, which makes it wonderfully savory.
In eastern France, on the other hand, their saucisson aux noisettes is made with the addition of whole hazelnuts.
Finally, we have boudin, which in French simply means “pudding.” These savory, delicious sausages are composed of a variety of ingredients. However, the most important are the ground spices and the natural casings it is placed in.
There are generally two types of this sausage: blanc and noir (or white and black).
Boudin blanc is normally served during the holidays, and it is often served in Auvergne in central France, a location famous for its chestnuts.
Boudin noir, on the other hand, is much more specific, as pig’s blood is added to the sausage. This gives the boudin noir a distinctive dark red color.
The sausage is made from a mixture of ingredients including pork shoulder, back fat, and blood, as well as caramelized onions, apples and many more.
When they make the sausage, they encase it in sheep, pig or other intestine or stomach lining and poach it in water made with bay leaf and onion. The blood in the sausage solidifies in the cooking process and comes out delicate, soft and mousse-like.
Whether you like boudin noir or boudin blanc, you’ll see just how delicious this French sausage can be.
For a salty, savory and most importantly delicious treat, fill up your charcuterie with jambon de Bayonne, saucisson sec, or one of the boudins. Or, even better, serve up all three.
Your guests will be impressed by the beautiful meat and their fantastic flavor, and you’ll see just how delicious authentic French meat can be.