We're in the middle of National Sausage Week and at the beginning of World Vegan Month, so there really isn't a better recipe for feeding the family this weekend than Jackie Kearney's vegan Toad-in-the-Hole. Jackie's take on the comfort food classic is exactly what you need as the days grow shorter and chillier this November. Keep in mind that it's best to stick to the instructions and measurements as closely as possible so you can achieve that Yorkshire Pudding flavour and super-fluffy texture.
For the sausages
175 g/6 oz. frozen vegan mince or 90 g/3¼ oz. dried textured vegetable protein (TVP), 1 teaspoon Marmite/yeast extract and 2 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 large carrot, diced
1 leek, thinly sliced
1 medium potato, peeled and diced into 4-mm/⅛-inch cubes
3 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
9 fresh sage leaves, chopped, or 1 teaspoon dried sage
Small handful of fresh thyme, chopped, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
100–200 ml/⅓–1 cup vegetable stock
150 g/5½ oz. vital wheat gluten flour
2 tablespoons chickpea/gram flour
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the gravy
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 red onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons plain/all-purpose flour
1 small glass of red wine (optional)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 litre/1 quart roasted vegetable stock
½ teaspoon ground white pepper
For the pudding batter
1–2 tablespoons vegetable fat, such as Trex
150 g/1 cup plus 1 tablespoon self-raising/self-rising flour
320 ml/11 fl oz. unsweetened soy milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda/baking soda
½ teaspoon black salt
60 ml/¼ cup aquafaba, whipped into soft peaks
6–8 squares of grease-proof paper
6–8 squares of foil
25.5 cm/10 inch wide ovenproof dish
For the sausages, if using frozen vegan mince, ensure it is fully defrosted. If using dried TVP, simmer for 5–10 minutes in a small pan with 710ml/3 cups of boiling water along with the Marmite/yeast extract and soy sauce. Leave to stand for a few minutes, then strain.
In a medium frying pan/skillet, add the oil, shallots, garlic, carrot and leek and place over a medium heat. Fry gently for 7–8 minutes and then add the potato pieces. Cook for another 10 minutes until all the vegetables are softened but the potatoes are only just cooked. Add the garlic and onion powders, mince, fresh or dried herbs, liquid smoke, and salt and pepper. Stir well so all the flavours are well combined, then add 60 ml/¼ cup of the stock. Check the seasoning of the mixture and add more salt if needed. Remove from the heat, tip into a large bowl and cool the mixture for 10–15 minutes.
Add the wheat gluten, chickpea/gram flour and mince mixture to the bowl and combine to make a dough. Add the remaining stock, as much as needed to make a firm dough. I suggest adding 2–3 tablespoons at a time until the dough comes together. Combine well and then divide the dough into 6–8 pieces and roll roughly into sausage shapes. Using the greaseproof squares, roll each sausage inside a paper square, achieving a more even shape and desired size, approx. 12–14 cm/4¾ x 5½ inches long. Roll in the paper and then twist the ends to secure. Wrap in foil and roll again, wrapping and twisting the ends like a cracker. Repeat to make 6–8 wrapped sausages. Place the sausages in the fridge for 30–40 minutes, longer if possible.
To make the gravy, in a heavy-based pan, add 2 tablespoons olive oil along with the sliced red onions. Fry over a medium-high heat for 12–15 minutes until well softened and browned. Then add the plain flour and mix well. Cook for a minute or two, then add the wine, soy sauce, garlic powder, stock and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook over a low heat for 20–30 minutes. Taste and season with more soy sauce and pepper if you like. Set aside, reheating as needed just before serving.
Once the sausages have set, remove from the fridge, place in a steamer and cook for 1 hour. Once cooked, allow to cool before removing the foil and paper wrapping. This is the best stage for freezing the sausages if you have made a large batch. They will keep in the freezer for several months.
Preheat the oven to 220˚C (425˚F) Gas 7.
Put 1–2 tablespoons olive oil into a small, non-stick pan over a medium heat. Add the sausages and cook for 7–8 minutes until lightly browned on all sides. Set aside.
Put the vegetable fat into the ovenproof dish and put on the middle shelf in the oven.
To make the pudding batter, sift the flour into a large bowl and whisk together with the rest of the batter ingredients, except the aquafaba. Whisk well to make the mixture slightly frothy. Then gently fold in the aquafaba. Remove the hot baking dish from the oven and place on top of the hob/stovetop. Pour the frothy batter mixture into the hot dish, then top with 6–8 of the sausages. It should sizzle and bubble. Carefully and quickly place the dish back in the hot oven. Bake undisturbed for 25–35 minutes, until the batter is cooked through and crispy.
Serve with the hot onion gravy and steamed greens such as sprouting broccoli stems.