In the Swiss canton of Vaud, you will find a smoked pork sausage called Boutefas. Its fat, asymmetrical shape comes from the form of its natural casing, a pouch known as the cecum. Part of a pig’s digestive system, undigested food arrives in the cecum from the small intestine before entering the large intestine. Sounds appetizing, doesn’t it? While I personally avoid eating the casing, the sausage meat actually tastes quite delicious.
Inside its natural casing, Boutefas contains raw pork meat, bacon, salt and spices. This sausage closely resembles the Saucisson Vaudois, except for its size and shape. It also reminds me of a Saucisson Neuchâtelois from the neighboring canton of Neuchâtel. Unlike these other sausages, however, Boutefas only has one opening tied up with string.
My family and I tried Boutefas for the first time this week, after reading about it for the last few years in relation to the “Mister Boutefas” competition. Each year since the first edition in 2015, Slow Food Vaud has hosted a competition to see which butcher has made the best sausage. In 2018, La Nuit du Boutefas was held at the Auberge de l’Abbaye de Montheron. After narrowing down the 17 entries to five finalists, the jury selected Pascal Ruchet of the Boucherie du Centre in Leysin as the winner. While Mister Boutefas 2018 did not make the Boutefas I purchased, I managed to buy a sausage from one of this year’s five finalists. I found it at La Ferme Vaudoise in the center of Lausanne.
How to Cook a Boutefas
According to Patrimoine Culinaire Suisse, Boutefas can range in size from about 600 grams to 3 kilograms. The sausage I purchased was about 1.6 kilograms (CHF 39.75). The key to cooking it is low and slow—a temperature around 70-75° C for about 1.5 hours, depending on the size of the sausage. You can cook them in water or with vegetables, such as leeks and potatoes, which are key components of Papet Vaudois, a traditional dish from this region that is often made with Saucisson Vaudois. After they are cooked, Boutefas can also be sliced and served cold with a cheese platter, perhaps for an apéro.
When I made this sausage for dinner at home, I ended up overcooking it a bit. The skin darkened more than necessary, and the meat could have been more juicy. However, the smoky flavor of the pork and bacon came through, and we all immediately liked it. Instead of potatoes and leeks, I served it with lentilles de Sauverny, green lentils from the canton of Geneva—another typical side dish for smoked sausages in Suisse Romande.