A Very Beery Michigan Thanksgiving

by Dianna Stampfler

Beer Brined Turkey with Fennel Spice Rub

Fennel Spice Rub

1 cup fennel seeds

2 Tablespoons white peppercorns

3 Tablespoons kosher salt

2 Tablespoons ground basil

Put the fennel seeds and peppercorns in a heavy pan over medium heat. Toss to toast evenly to a light brown color, being careful not to burn. Remove to plate to cool completely before grinding. Pour the seeds into a grinder and add the salt and ground basil. Blend to a fine powder, shaking the blender occasionally to redistribute the seeds. Store in a tightly sealed glass jar in a cool, dry place, or freeze.



1 cup kosher salt

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 gallon vegetable stock

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

1/2 tablespoon allspice berries

1 tablespoon Fennel rub

1 gallon (two growlers) Mad Hatter IPA

4 – 6 pounds of ice

Combine all brine ingredients, except beer and ice, in a stockpot, and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve solids, then remove from heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. 6 to 12 hours before cooking is to begin, combine the brine and iced-beer in a clean 5-gallon bucket or chest cooler.

Place thawed turkey breast side down in brine. Add beer or ice to cover bird, close cooler/cover bucket and refrigerate or set in cool area (like a basement) for duration of brine (6 – 12 hours) Turn turkey over once, half way through brining.


Turkey Stock

2 small whole onions, peeled

2 carrots, halved

2 celery stalks, halved

1 quart chicken stock

Remove necks and giblets and put into a large saucepan. Add onions, 2 carrots, 2 celery stalks, and the chicken stock. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce the heat and let simmer until reduced to about 2 cups. Strain and reserve for gravy.



Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

1 large (18 – 21 lb) whole turkey or

two small (8 – 10 lbs)

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1/2 cup Fennel Spice Rub

8 sprigs of fresh herbs, any combination of rosemary,

thyme, sage & oregano

2 lemons, halved

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup butter

Wash the turkey(s), inside and out, and dry well. Coat inside and out with half of the olive oil. Season each turkey on the outside generously with the spice rub. Insert herb sprigs and 2 lemon halves inside the cavity of each turkey.

Set oiled and rubbed turkeys onto roasting rack & pan. Drizzle remaining olive oil over bird. Roast until an instant-read thermometer (inserted deep into the thigh but away from the bone) reads 165 degrees F and juices in the thigh run clear when pierced with a fork, about 2 to 2 1/2 hours; begin checking at 2 hours. Remove from the pans and let rest for 15 minutes before carving. Reserve pan juices for gravy.

While turkeys are resting, make the gravy. In a medium heavy saucepan, cook flour and butter over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, or until a blond roux is formed. Add pan juices and either homemade turkey stock, (alt: chicken stock) and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and let simmer until thickened and ready to serve.


Bellaire Brown Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Maple Smoked Bacon

courtesy MichiganBeerBlog.net

2 large sweet potatoes

Olive oil (enough to brush on the sweet potatoes)

6 strips maple smoked bacon

1 tablespoon butter

1 yellow onion, thinly sliced

2 teaspoons light brown sugar

2/3 cup Short’s Bellaire Brown

2 tablespoons maple syrup

Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper for easy clean up. Wash the potatoes and pat dry. Cut in half and brush the cut side with a little bit of olive oil. Place cut side down on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until soft when squeezed between the folds of a towel. Depending on the size of your sweet potatoes, this should take about 30-40 minutes.

In a large skillet over medium heat, add bacon. Cook, turning frequently, until browned and crisp, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a paper-toweled lined plate to drain. Cool completely. Chop finely, reserving about one slice for garnish.

Once the potatoes are cooked, remove from oven and cool for 5-10 minutes. Scoop out the flesh and set aside.

In a large skillet over medium-low heat, melt one tablespoon butter. Add sliced onions and brown sugar; stir occasionally, until the onions caramelize and turn a deep golden brown, about 10-12 minutes (pictured below on left). Add beer and cook 2 minutes. Add maple syrup. Stir well and cook 3-4 minutes.

Add roasted potatoes and bacon to skillet. Stir well. Season with freshly ground black pepper. Garnish with reserved bacon and enjoy!


Bell’s Pale Ale Braised Brussels Sprouts

courtesy MichiganBeerBlog.net

2 pounds fresh brussels sprouts

8 oz. thick cut bacon, chopped

1/2 cup red onion, diced

12 oz. Bell’s Pale Ale

Salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes

Trim the ends of each brussels sprout, removing excess leaves. Cut the sprouts in half, leaving the smallest sprouts whole.

Place a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped bacon and saute until crisp. Add the diced red onion and saute another 2-3 minutes to soften.

Add the Brussels Sprouts. Stir and sear the sides of the sprouts for 4-5 minutes. Pour the bottle of beer into the skillet, and season with the salt and both peppers. Bring to a simmer and lower the heat a little. Stir and simmer until the beer has reduced to a glaze and the sprouts are cooked through (about 12-15 minutes).


Beer & Food Pairings

by Fred Bueltmann, New Holland Brewing Company

Harvest Ales: The coppery, earthy tones of fresh hops make these beers zesty companions to greens and herbs. They accentuate the fresh flavors of both, bridging the grassy, floral components up front and elevated malt notes in the body.

Pumpkin Ales: Pumpkin and squash soups or roasted roots like beets and potatoes are satisfying complements. Also deft at dessert, they add an exclamation point to pumpkin and pecan pies.

Brown Ales: Malt-forward brown ales typically showcase caramel-malt in some manner and often bring a nutty character forward. These ales are versatile food beers and might be considered cold-weather cousins of the American amber ale. A warming character in a hearty brown ale, evidence of a slightly raised alcohol level, is a welcome friend around the pot-bellied stove. Definitely the flannel-lined jeans, brown ales are every-day drinking, inside and out.

Roasted vegetables & poultry are enlivened by their bridge to brown ale’s sweet caramel body and nutty finish. Figs, gruyere or cured meats are also well-suited for brown ales. Brown Ales are also a versatile ingredient in the kitchen. They can be a rich addition to stews, stocks and sauces.

Imperial Stouts: Bigger and bolder than traditional stouts, Imperial Stouts feature the dark, somewhat intense roasted malts. Deep flavor ranges from chocolaty sweetness to edgy, roasty, coffee-like bitterness. These beers are bigger beers, ranging from 7.5% to 11% alcohol by volume. Warming and robust when you want them to be although paired with the right foods, like rich beef, blue cheese or chocolate, they become light on their feet.