Mardi Gras is this Tuesday, with parades, revelry, krewes and their balls and king cakes. It wouldn’t be Mardi Gras without king cakes and hundreds of these are sold in the weeks preceding Mardi Gras in Louisiana and the Golf Coast. These desserts are rich pastries baked in an oval shape and decorated with green, purple and burnt orange sugar or icing. Often they are filled with cinnamon sugar, cream cheese, cherries or countless other fillings. This week, our local newspaper featured recipe for a “Boudin King Cake” which is a savory pastry filled with Cajun Boudin sausage. That’s sort of a unique twist on dessert king cakes, I mused. Why not give it a try. And so I made a variation, “Savory Andouille King Cake.”
Savory Andouille King Cake
I’ve heard of Crawfish King Cake and now Boudin King Cake. So why not try a sausage king cake? My “Savory Andouille King Cake” turned out mighty good. It tastes more like a breakfast pizza or a filled breakfast bread than a dessert king cake, which is to be expected. I had to be a little inventive on figuring out what to use for green, purple and burnt yellow icings. Actually the sausage filling, crescent roll pastry, jams and cream cheese all went together well. The hot pepper jelly set everything off and the sweeter marmalade and blueberry jam melded with the pastry, too.
King Cake History
King cakes were brought from France to New Orleans in the 1800’s. A king cake refers to biblical event and the celebrates the visit of the Magi to the Christ Child on Epiphany or January 6. The Eve of Epiphany is known as the “Twelfth Night” (or 12 nights past Christmas Eve). The carnival season and king cakes extend from the Twelfth Night to Shove Tuesday or Fat Tuesday — the day before Lent begins. Mardi Gras is celebrated on Fat Tuesday.
The official colors of Mardi Gras date back to 1872 when the Krewe of Rex designated the colors: purple for justice, green for faith, and gold for power. The tradition of decorating in these colors for Mardi Gras has lasted ever since that time.
Savory Andouille King Cake Recipe
For the pastry, I used Pillsbury Crescent Dough Sheets rather than making a homemade yeast dough bread. The flaky dough sheets, a variation of crescent rolls, were mighty delicious.
For the sausage, I used Zatarain’s Brand Andouille sausage. This brand of sausage is fully cooked and has a very thin, pliable casing. Andouille sausage is a Cajun-style smoked pork sausage which is a courser grind with several seasonings including garlic, paprika, pepper and onions.
Zatarian’s Andouille sausage and Cajun-style sausage have just been on the market since October 2019. So if these aren’t available, substitute any fully-cooked flavorful smoked sausage. I made half the king cake with the Andouille (right) and half with the Cajun-style sausage (left). Both tasted great! The key here is to use sausages which are fully-cooked. Otherwise, brown the sausage first on the stove.To make the king cake, roll out one container of the crescent dough sheet. Load on half the package of sausage, chopped finely, then onions and cheese.
Roll it up, lengthwise, and carefully place — seam side down — onto a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Repeat with the second crescent dough sheet and more sausage, onions and cheese. (I love onions on anything savory.) Form into an oval shape. It really doesn’t matter that there are some holes — these will help let the seam escape and you won’t notice the holes after the pastry is decorated. But I’ll work on my technique later.
This makes a great breakfast pastry which isn’t sweet like traditional cakes. No sugar rush. This might become a alternative standard at our house. Fix this any time of the year, not only at Mardi Gras!
- 1 (14 oz) package of Zatarian’s Andouille Sausage or any brand of skinless, fully cooked sausage
- 2 (8 oz) packages Pillsbury Crescent Dough Sheets
- 1 medium onion, chopped finely
- 4 green onions, chopped, whites and part of green tops (optional)
- 1 (8 oz) package shredded Italian cheese blend
- 1 (8 oz) carton cream cheese spread, room temperature
- 1/3 cup green pepper jam
- 1/3 cup blueberry jam
- 1/3 cup marmalade
Method and Steps:
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Finely chop the andouille sausage and set aside.
- Gently unroll one package of Crescent Dough Sheet on large flat surface such as a cutting board.
- Sprinkle on 1/2 of the chopped sausage.
- Next sprinkle on 1/2 of the chopped onions, 1/2 of the green onions (optional) and then 1/2 of the Italian cheese blend.
- Roll it up, lengthwise, and carefully place — seam side down — onto a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.
- Repeat steps #3 to #6 with second package of Crescent Dough Sheet, sausage, onions, green onions (optional) and cheese.
- Bring the ends of the pastry rolls together to form a large oval. Tuck the ends in together to seal.
- Bake in 350 degree oven for 35 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let cool. When the pastry can be handled, use a spatula to loosen from aluminum foil and transfer to serving platter.
- Use a knife to spread cream cheese in decorative pattern on top of the pastry.
- Soften each of the jams in the microwave for a few seconds. Or place each jam in a small pot, bring to a boil, stirring, to soften. Decorate pastry with dollops of the jams, in decorative pattern.
- Cut into slices and serve.