I’m going for something a little bit different this time round. I’ve packed the saucepan in the cupboard, left the hob switched off and fired up the oven to cook the Sticky Vegan Sausage & Potato Traybake from Wallflower Kitchen. With fond childhood memories of something similar plus the added sweetness of golden syrup, I was really excited to give this recipe try.
As for choosing which alcohol-free drink to go with this, the first choice was to decide wine or beer? As this was an oven bake with a homely feel, it made me think of reaching for a pint of real in a traditional style pub restaurant. Alcohol-free beer it was then.
The next question was which one? After looking through the options in my fridge, the Jump Ship Goosewing called out to me. I don’t know whether it was the prospect of drinking an IPA or thinking about the hazy amber beer sitting in the glass, but it just seemed perfect for this moment. As an added bonus, the beer was also vegan making this a completely meat-free, alcohol-free meal.
Recipe: Sticky Vegan Sausage & Potato Traybake
As a kid I remember my mum often used to cook a sausage and onion bake and it was one of my favourite meals. When I found this sausage and potato traybake with very similar ingredients, I knew I had to give it a go – especially is this recipe had added in golden syrup.
Working full time plus running Good Stuff Drinks means that time is always pressured. Something that really appealed to me about this recipe with the speed at which it could be prepared before being left in the oven to cook. This would give me plenty of time to catch up with my family after busy day instead of spending ages in the kitchen cooking. As ever when choosing a meal, I’m looking for maximum flavour with as little time required was another plus point for this recipe.
I’m not vegan and I wouldn’t pretend to be, but I have found myself reaching for non-meat products more and more in recent years. I have to admit I was really tempted to try this recipe with meat sausages. Instead, I decided the going for the vegan option would be a fairer reflection of the recipe and better for me. I couldn’t find this brand of sausages suggested in the recipe, so I chose the Quorn ones instead. More on my experience with these later.
Preparation: Super Easy (Unless You’re Me)
When a recipe has only 5 steps in total, I know the preparation is going to be super easy and that was the case this time. All the vegetable preparation is done early on before throwing them in the oven. The final ingredients are then added a little later in the cooking time. It’s so simple.
The recipe calls for “700g white potato” and I decided to go for the small new potatoes, but this choice inadvertently added to the prep time. If I’d have chosen a few large potatoes, washing and chopping these would have been super quick. Instead, I had loads of small potatoes that needed scrubbing first. Not exactly a problem, but washing potatoes isn’t exactly fun!
Everything else was easy and went in the oven as planned. On checking the sausages just before serving, my lack of vegan sausage experience shone through. To my untrained not-really-a-vegan eyes, they didn’t look cooked so I added an extra 5 minutes to the cooking time to try and brown them off more.
Everything was going so well. What could possibly go wrong?
Meal: Sweet Caramelised Heaven
If you’ve read any of my previous attempts following a recipe, you will probably notice the common theme. Somehow I always miss a key ingredient.
With everything already in the oven, I can hear you ask what can you possibly forgotten now?
The gravy! I’d assumed that I had plenty in the cupboard, but you know what they say about assumptions. My chance of mixing the sweet caramelised onion with the gravy will have to wait for next time.
Even without the gravy poured over it, the meal looked very homely and appetising. Mixing the veg through the oil before putting them in the oven had given everything a nice browned colour that just made me want to tuck in.
The golden syrup and caramelised onion combined wonderfully to give all the ingredients a wonderful glaze along with making them taste slightly sweet. At the same time, the thyme and garlic just added a layer of complexity to the flavours that made me enjoy each mouthful. It’s a real shame I couldn’t add the gravy. I’m sure it would have combined all these flavours perfectly.
Did my decision to go for the vegan sausages pay off? Yes. It’s still taking me a little bit of getting used to cooking non-meat alternatives to meat products like sausages, but these were fairly tasty. They were little dryer then the meat sausages that I’m used to, but that will be down to the extra time I left them in the oven and is nothing to do with the sausages.
Alcohol-Free Drink: Jump Ship Goosewing IPA
My choice is gone for an alcohol-free beer with this meal was perfect. It had such a homely feel to it that to me just needed a great beer in hand to round it off.
The question is, was the Jump Ship Goosewing that beer? Definitely!
Pouring into the glass, it had a wonderful head that slowly settled to a few bubbles atop the wonderful hazy amber liquid. Taking some time to enjoy the aroma of tropical and stone fruits, the temptation drew me in to give it a try. The initial flavours of sharp grapefruit, but these quickly progress to the bitter hops that leave a delightfully long bitter aftertaste on the palate.
It was this bitterness that made it such a wonderful accompaniment to the sausage and potato bake. With the sweetness of the sauce coated on each of the ingredients, having a drink with a bitter edge made for brilliant contrast in flavours. These made me want to take my time through the meal to keeps sipping at the beer and treat my palate to the bitter/sweet comparison of beer and food.
Buy Your Alcohol-Free Beer
There’s no doubt about it, the sharp bitterness of the hops is a fantastic contrast to the hint of sweetness in the traybake. The Jump Ship Goosewing does a great job, but there’s a wonderful selection of great alcohol-free beers where the hops give a wonderful, bitter aftertastes.
I’d recommend several alcohol-free beers with a similar hoppy flavour, all of which you can buy:
If wine is more your thing, I’d reach for a red, but with a homely dish like this, I’d recommend choosing your favourite. You can choose from a variety pack and find the best wine for you here:
When a recipe only has a few simple steps and cooking the meal goes this well, there’s very few lessons to be learnt. I’ll let you decide whether that’s a reflection on the quality of the instructions or that I should be involved as little as possible when cooking a meal.
The few pieces of advice I will suggest are:
- Buy bigger potatoes – the new potatoes may have looked good once cooked, but washing and preparing larger spuds would be quicker
- Check your cupboard for gravy before you start cooking
- Follow the cooking times – the extra minutes dried out the vegan sausages
I chose this traybake as it reminded me of a childhood favourite meal. Did this recreate that meal? No, but that’s no bad thing. This ended up being a completely different dish packed with far more flavour. The caramelised onion and golden syrup gave a sweeter edge while the thyme and garlic layered in additional flavours that weren’t there in my fondly remembered mum’s traybake. The memory of that traybake will always make me smile, but this would be the one I’d cook again.
As for the beer, this was another great pairing. The wonderful hazy, amber beer even looks good next to the traybake and its subtle caramel glaze. However, where there are similarities in the colours, the flavours are a fantastic contrast. The initial sharpness followed by the long bitter aftertastes from the hops works really well to offset the understated sweetness of the traybake.
There’s no doubt about it, I’ll be trying this traybake again. When I do, I’ll make sure there’s a Jump Ship Goosewing waiting in the fridge.