Link grew up in southwest Louisiana in a family steeped in the German tradition of smoked meat centered along Hwy. 13 on the Cajun prairie. Following in the footsteps of Paul Prudhomme, he brought his own brand of Cajun cooking to New Orleans when he opened Cochon six months after Hurricane Katrina. He stocked the larders of Cochon and his other, more traditional New Orleans restaurant, Herbsaint, with house made sausages: andouille, boudin, home-cured bacon and even duck confit. Those items went on sale to the public when Link opened Cochon Butcher, his sandwich shop and meat counter, in the back of Cochon, in the Warehouse District.

Now he’s into condiments. His newest addition is Cochon’s Abita Beer Whole Grain Mustard, made with whole grain mustard seeds and local Abita beer. Not only is Link busy creating new products, he’s also promoting local foodstuffs, like the Abita Springs beer in his mustard, and the Cajun Grain rice I wrote about yesterday, in his dishes. Kudos, Donald Link.

The mustard is based on his German heritage and is designed to accompany Cochon’s handmade, cured meats and sausages. It’s available at Rouse's Supermarket in Youngsville and on the Link restaurant group Web site, $4.99 for a six-ounce jar. While you’re at it, Link’s cookbook, Real Cajun, is as far as I’m concerned THE cookbook of last year. I’ve been working my way through it, and have found the recipes to be simple and dead-on. Try his chicken and dumplings, it will change your life. Real Cajun is $35 on the Web site, and can also be found at Barnes and Noble, on Johnston St.

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