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Recipe from episode 3

Vegan gravy

A great vegan feast deserves a great vegan gravy, and here it is. The rich umami flavours come from the mushrooms, and the thorough browning of all the veg, plus a cunning tweak with a dash of coffee, brandy and stout. It can be made in advance and kept chilled for up to a week, or frozen.

Serves 6–8

2 tbsp rapeseed oil
About 100g large chestnut or open cap mushrooms, roughly chopped
200ml red wine
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 medium carrot, halved lengthways and thickly sliced
1 celery stick, roughly chopped
About 1 tsp plain flour
About 500ml hot light vegetable stock (or water)
2 bay leaves
1 large sprig of thyme
1-2 tbsp stout
1-2 tbsp strong coffee (espresso or similar)
1 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1 tbsp apple brandy (optional)
Sea salt and black pepper

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a wide, heavy pan over a high heat. Add the mushrooms and fry ‘hard’ for 7–8 minutes, without stirring to start with to develop some colour, then stir from time to time. They will release some liquid; keep cooking until this is evaporated and the mushrooms are well reduced. Loosen any bits sticking to the base of the pan with a wooden spatula from time to time. Keep going until the mushrooms are thoroughly browned and caramelised then tip them into a bowl. Add a splash of the wine to the pan, scraping to deglaze it, then add this liquor to the mushrooms.

Give the pan a wipe and add the remaining 1 tbsp oil, then the onion, carrot and celery. Sizzle pretty hard until the veg are well browned, almost to burning point but not quite. Add another splash of wine, giving the pan a good stir-and-scrape with a spatula. Now add a sprinkling of flour and cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes.

Add the stock, remaining wine and herbs. Bring to a simmer and cook for 6–7 minutes until the veg are just tender. Add the stout, coffee and tamari or soy and return the mushrooms to the pan. Take off the heat and discard herbs. Tip the contents of the pan into a blender. Blitz to a smooth gravy, adding a little extra stock if needed. Taste and add the apple brandy, if using/needed, salt and pepper to taste if required.

Serve straight away or cool and chill until needed. It may separate a bit on cooling, but will come back together if you give it a whisk as you reheat it.


Harriet Mansell of local restaurant Robin Wylde used a block of baker’s yeast, broken up and caramelised in the oven on high heat with a hint of smoked rapeseed oil, to add depth to her winning gravy. She also featured dried mushrooms (along with the fresh) and a finishing touch of nutmeg.

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As one of the courses making up the River Cottage Next Level Cooking Diploma 'Next Level Much More Veg' will teach you how you can make a feast from local, seasonal vegetables.