How to make lentil stew with smoked sausage from Cajun country.
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- Read on for relevant information and step-by-step pictures (1-2 mins)
This recipe is one of our favorite ways to cook Andouille sausage. Its bold flavors infuse the lentil stew with a medley of smokiness, spice and warmth. We also rely on a couple of ingredients for a layer of freshness at the end of the cooking process.
You can have dinner on the table within an hour of starting to work on the recipe – it all depends on how fast the lentils you choose to use will cook.
Ingredients for Lentil Stew with Smoked Sausage
- Andouille sausage. You will need about 14 ounces to a pound of Cajun andouille for this stew. See the section below for clarification on the different types of andouille. Also note that Cajun andouille sausage is spicy due to the cayenne it is made with. You can always use a smoked sausage like kielbasa instead.
- Olive oil. For maximum flavor choose extra virgin. You will sauté with part of it and stir the rest into the cooked stew for a burst of fresh floral, spicy notes.
- Onion, carrots, celery, garlic and tomato paste. To make the base for the stew.
- Lentils. Green or brown lentils will work best in this recipe.
- Beer/wine and broth. To deglaze and add flavor choose a dry but flavorful beer (we like to use a Belgian amber ale or a saison) or a dry red or white wine. Alternatively, deglaze with broth. For the bulk of the stew liquid if you have pork broth on hand – it works perfectly, otherwise chicken or vegetable.
- Herbs, spices and condiments. Bay leaf, thyme and rosemary – you can use fresh or dry. We recommend that you use fresh rosemary – add the whole sprigs to the stew so that you can easily remove them at the end. Flavor with chopped fresh rosemary before serving. A dollop of Dijon mustard, if folded into the stew at the end, brings a lot of umami. A bit of sherry vinegar or a similar mild vinegar is optional, but highly recommended.
About Andouille Sausage
Andouille (pronounced ahn doo wee) is a smoked pork sausage. Most people don’t realize this but there are two very distinct types – French andouille and Cajun/Louisiana andouille (with which most Americans are familiar).
- French andouille is mostly associated with the region of Brittany and is made from layers of chopped up chitterlings (pig intestines) and tripe, onions, wine and spices. This is not the kind of sausage we are concerned with here.
- Cajun/Louisiana andouille despite its French name actually has German origins. It was first made by German immigrants from the Rhineland who settled in an area just up the Mississippi from New Orleans known as Cotes des Allemandes or the German Coast. Their sausage was made with coarse ground pork, garlic, cayenne pepper and salt and smoked over pecan wood. Andouille became a symbol of Cajun cuisine as those early Germans started intermarrying with the French speaking Acadians.
Today most commercially sold Cajun andouille sausage is very similar in flavor to the original, but has a finer grind and comes in edible casings like most other smoked sausage. You can still buy the authentic product – at South Louisiana meat markets (where it goes just by Andouille) and at specialty stores around the nation.
If you ever wondered what to make with Cajun andouille sausage – this lentil stew is a great option!
Step by Step Process
- Prep. Slice the andouille (just over half inch thick circles) and rinse and soak the lentils in cold water, remove any impurities that float to the top. Dice the vegetables and garlic.
- Brown the andouille. Heat some olive oil and brown the sausage, then transfer it to a plate – you will add it to the stew towards the end.
- Make the base. In the same oil sauté the onion, carrots, celery and garlic until soft, stir in the tomato paste and cook for another minute to develop its flavors. Deglaze with the Belgian beer or wine, scrape off all brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Let the alcohol cook off.
- Simmer. Add the drained lentils to the pot, add the salt and pepper, bay leaf, rosemary and thyme. Add the broth and stir. Bring to boil, then reduce the heat, cover (leave a small partial opening) and simmer until the lentils are cooked.
- Finish. Once the lentils are soft, remove the bay leaf and rosemary and add the browned sausage. Stir and simmer for a couple of minutes. In the meantime finely chop fresh rosemary and fold it into the stew once you take the pot off the heat. Also fold in the Dijon mustard and extra virgin olive oil. Just before you serve the lentil stew, add some sherry vinegar.
TIP: Folding the finely chopped rosemary at the very end brings about a fragrant herbal freshness to the hearty stew and counters the smoky and garlicy dominance of the andouille. It is not to miss! The extra virgin olive oil contributes floral notes and the umami of the Dijon adds a sophisticated depth of flavor. Then all you need is a touch of acidity – if you don’t have sherry vinegar handy use apple cider or white wine vinegar.
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- 14 oz Andouille sausage*
- 4 tbsp olive oil, divided**
- 1 onion
- 2 celery stalks
- 2 carrots
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 cup dry Belgian ale (amber or saison)***
- 2 cups lentils (green or brown)
- 1 quart broth (pork, chicken or vegetable)
- 1/2 tbsp dried thyme (or 1 tbsp fresh)
- 4 rosemary sprigs, divided****
- bay leaf
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp sherry vinegar (optional)
1. Cut the andouille sausage in just over half inch thick circles. Rinse the lentils, remove any impurities. Dice the onion, carrots, celery and garlic.
2. In a Dutch oven heat the olive oil over medium heat and brown the andouille. Remove it to a plate and set aside. Sauté the vegetables and garlic until soft, stir in the tomato paste and sauté for another minute or so.
3. Deglaze with the beer (or wine), scrape any brown bits from the bottom of the pot and let the liquid reduce. Add the drained lentils to the pot, stir then add the salt and pepper, bay leaf, half the rosemary and thyme. Pour the broth and stir.
4. Bring to boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cover, leaving just a sliver of an opening. Simmer until the lentils are tender. Periodically check on the liquid of the stew and add a bit of water if needed.
5. Once the lentils are cooked, remove the bay leaf and rosemary sprigs and discard. Add back the andouille to the pot and let simmer for a couple of more minutes. In the meantime, very finely chop the remaining rosemary.
6. Add the chopped rosemary, remaining olive oil and Dijon mustard to the lentil stew and stir. Remove from the heat. Just before serving add the sherry vinegar and stir again.
*you can substitute with other smoked sausage such as kielbasa and add a bit of cayenne to the stew for a touch of heat.
**use extra virgin olive oil if possible for its stronger flavor.
***alternatively use 1/2 cup dry wine, red or white. If using a Belgian beer, it is absolutely fine to add all of the 12 oz - it is not bitter and brings a lot of flavor to the stew. Just be sure to let it reduce a bit.
****using fresh rosemary really makes a difference here, especially because some of it is added at the end, freshly chopped very finely.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 463Total Fat: 30gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 19gCholesterol: 45mgSodium: 1259mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 7gSugar: 6gProtein: 19g