Andouille and kielbasa are often mistaken for the same sausage. This is an easy error to make, seeing how there are so many different kinds of sausage from all around the world and they look quite similar. However, we're here to set the record straight. There is a significant difference between these two meats, and when it comes right down to it, the only real similarity between them is something to do with a pig and some smoke.
Both andouille and kielbasa sausage are indeed smoky and herbaceous, but they each have a unique flavor profile and are made using different cuts of meat. Andouille is a spicy, heavily smoked sausage that is found in Cajun dishes like duck and andouille gumbo and jambalaya. Kielbasa is also a smoky sausage, but typically a non-spicy one with herbal undertones that is great for grilling or can be baked with root vegetables for a hearty wintertime dinner. Both have their respective places, and both are equally delicious.
Andouille Is A Cajun Staple
Andouille sausage is of French origin and was initially created to reduce waste in butcher shops (it's made from tripe). These sausages don't just use the typical meat of the pig but often include entrails and lard to enhance their flavor. Eventually, the recipe evolved to include spices and herbs like garlic and thyme. When French immigrants came to Louisiana, the resulting Cajun population adopted the recipe (or at least the name -- there's an argument to be made that Cajun andouille is more Germanic in origin) and upped the ante, adding the spicy kick of cayenne pepper and smoking their sausages rather than poaching like their French counterparts.
Andouille (at least the Cajun version most recognized by Americans) can be significantly spicier than kielbasa. Most andouille is made with pork butt nowadays: The butt is smoked once, stuffed into casings, and then smoked again, giving it that distinctive andouille flavor. This also means you're getting a sausage that is pre-cooked rather than raw, making it perfect for frying up with a nice caramel crust before adding to your dish. It's a pillar of Cajun cuisine and is best enjoyed in stews and gumbos.
Polish Kielbasa Is A Bit Milder
Kielbasa is a Polish sausage that traces back to the 15th century. Originally a dish for wealthy Eastern Europeans, within a few hundred years it became hugely popular in America. Kielbasa is cured meat, usually submerged in brine for preservation and taste. Then the sausage either undergoes cold smoking (where the sausage is stuffed into its casing and left in the smokehouse for up to 36 hours to preserve the meat and give it its smokiness) or hot smoking (which accomplishes the same thing more quickly). Either way, kielbasa is thoroughly cooked and ready to eat.
Kielbasa can be made with a blend of meats: It typically always contains pork but can be mixed with beef or venison. The flavor of this sausage isn't as bold as andouille and has a strong herbal profile due to the use of marjoram. This meat is more like a bratwurst or a hotdog in that kielbasa can be grilled and served on its own. Try it with brown mustard and sauerkraut, and serve it up with a side of potato or macaroni salad at your next summer cookout. You can also throw kielbasa in a soup or a pasta sauce for extra protein and meaty flavor. Because kielbasa is milder than andouille, you may find it a more versatile and accessible option for a broader variety of dishes.
Now that you know the difference between these two sausages, you'll never end up with kielbasa gumbo again.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.