“Vegan Bratwurst?” I hear you cry, “What inspired that one?!” Well, this time last year our eldest was living in the heart of Berlin – recently crowned vegan capital of the world – and, oh my word, a German Christmas Market is the best thing to get a person into the festive spirit! I was so inspired by all the sounds, scents and flavours on offer.
Titan Travel has been creating hand-crafted escorted tours for British holidaymakers since 1978, to celebrate the festive season they have partnered up with me and 11 other bloggers to bring you the 12 Days of Blogmas. Each of us has been challenged to create a recipe or craft inspired by a trip to one of Europe’s fabulous Christmas markets – it was an opportunity too good to miss! Our eldest spent 6 months studying in Berlin from October to April and he absolutely loved it, having him as our guide when we visited was so special. Seeing him so at home, so in control, so happy was just wonderful. Berlin is a vibrant, exciting city full of possibilities and full of history and, at Christmas time, it is magical.
Christmas markets are always a wonderful mixture of trinkets, gifts, Christmas decorations, food and drink. In Germany that drink is hot, spiced Glühwein and Glühwein has now become our go to warmer during Christmassy winter sails. I was determined to make a well flavoured vegan bratwurst to go with it!
I’m not going to pretend that making vegan sausages from scratch is a five minute job, but it is not as complicated as it sounds and the results are so delicious that putting in some time is well worth the effort! Once you’ve got the hang of it you can fiddle about with flavours and produce a whole selection of vegan wurst to suit your mood! You can also cook them in stages, I usually do the making and steaming in one day and then fry them up when we want to eat them. They freeze very well so I make a big batch and grab them when the mood takes us – usually when we are heading to the coast; they make a very easy lunch on board!
Vegan Bratwurst – My Flavour Inspirations
I’ve made lots of vegan sausages over the years, for my vegan Bratwurst I wanted to create something well flavoured which would stand up to being paired with some caramelised beer onions and a glass of spicy Glühwein. It needed to be something which would warm us up while we’re flying along the Dorset coast under full sail and wintery skies, and which would remind us of our time spent in Berlin with our boy! There are so many recipes for German Bratwurst with each area having its own recipe and favoured flavours, but marjoram seems to pop up in quite a few so I took that as my starting point and worked from there. I wanted a real depth of flavour which I achieved by adding dried mushrooms, nutmeg, smoked paprika, tamari and miso to my mix along with some white pepper for a bit of a kick.
We visited the southern German wine region during our Rhine River Cruise earlier this year for Cruise International Magazine (more on that soon!) and I fell head over heels in love with quaint Rüdesheim. I’m determined to go back for their Christmas market at the earliest possible opportunity but, in the meantime, I took inspiration from this area too and added some white wine to my vegan bratwurst.
All those flavours and inspirations came together into a totally delicious vegan bratwurst which I’m really proud of. It was hard to keep my hands off this batch long enough to photograph it!
- 25 g/half a cup dried mixed mushrooms
- 125 ml/half a cup mushroom stock (use the soaking water from your mushrooms)
- 250 g/2 cups onion, diced
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 4 large cloves garlic (or to taste)
- 60 ml/quarter cup vegan white wine
- 100 g/half a cup cooked butter beans
- 1 tbsp dried marjoram
- 1/2 tbsp white pepper
- 1/2 tbsp paprika
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
- 2 tbsp tamari soy sauce
- 2 tbsp miso
- 180 - 220 g/1.5 - 1.75 cups vital wheat gluten flour (easily available from whole food stores and online)
- Soak the dried mushrooms in boiling water for 20 minutes - don't throw the soaking water away!
- Fry the diced onion in the olive oil for 10 minutes or until soft and translucent
- Add the chopped garlic and fry gently for a further minute
- Add the white wine and cook gently until the liquid is reduced by half, remove from the heat
- Transfer to a blender. Add the drained mushrooms, butter beans, herbs, spices, tamari, miso and 125ml/half a cup of the mushroom soaking water (keep the rest to use as stock for something else, it's delicious!)
- Blend until well combined - it doesn't need to be smooth as smooth
- Transfer the blended mixture to a large bowl and start by adding 125g/one cup the vital wheat gluten flour. Mix well. Add enough flour to make a soft dough which you can roll into sausages between your hands. It should be a little bit sticky but not leave dough all over your hands. Add a bit more flour if it is too sticky.
- Divide the dough into 16 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a sausage shape about 10cm/4 inches long (or, the width of your bread roll!)
- Wrap each sausage tightly in cling film (I hold each end of the cling film and spin it, dramatically, all chef like!) then in foil and steam them for one hour.
- Leave to cool (they firm up a bit as they cool) then fry two vegan bratwurst per person in a little olive oil until browned and cooked through.
- To serve, place a spoonful of caramelised onions into each bread roll, top with two bratwurst and a squirt of mustard, wash it down with some hot Glühwein. Alternatively serve them up with some sauerkraut and potato salad with a big glass of beer!
How to Make Beer Caramelised Onions
To go with my vegan bratwurst I halved an onion and sliced it thinly before frying it very slowly in a little olive oil. I keep the lid on for this and put the pan on the lowest heat allowing the onions time to soften and brown gently. It takes about 20 minutes and as soon as they start to turn a deep golden amber you can add 1 teaspoon of dark muscovado sugar and 1 tablespoon of your favourite vegan beer. Fry with the lid off until they are sticky and caramelised before spooning them onto a soft bread roll, topping them with a couple of vegan bratwurst and a good splodge of mustard. Divine! One large onion makes enough caramelised beer onions for two bread rolls.
Just look how tasty those beer caramelised onions are, the texture on that vegan bratwurst and can you taste the sharp heat of that mustard breaking through?
So, go on, celebrate Christmas with a vegan bratwurst in a bun, a glass of glühwein and transport yourself to a magical German Christmas Market!
This is a collaborative post.
Images of Berlin taken by Tali Mosler (my boy!) all other photographs taken by me, as usual!