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A&E >  Food

Think of it as beer-can turkey … with the beer but without the can

Think of it as elevated beer-can turkey.

Or, beer-can turkey with the beer but without the can.

Earthy, herbaceous flavors from fresh sage and thyme combine with the brightness of citrus, bitterness of beer and sharpness of mustard in this turkey recipe, which makes for a moist, juicy and tender bird.

Even though it sounds like there’s a lot going on here, none of the notes overpowers any other. There’s a little zest and a little zing. But it’s rounded out by the beer and vegetal notes of the fresh herbs.

Of course, you can always make adjustments to taste. Halve the mustard for less tang. Use mustard you made yourself. Add an orange, dried orange peel and fresh orange zest for another – sweeter – dimension to the tartness of the lemon. Add another half or whole teaspoon of dried herbs to the rub. Rosemary would work, too – in the rub and in the gravy.

Just be sure the internal temperature of the bird reaches 165 degrees. (Check the USDA’s website for other turkey-cooking tips at

And be sure to baste. That’s what the beer is for.

Beer-basted turkey with citrus, mustard and fresh herbs

1 (16-pound) turkey (neck and giblets reserved)

For the herbed salt rub

1/4 cup kosher salt

2 teaspoons black pepper

1 teaspoon dried lemon peel

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried sage

1 teaspoon dried parsley

1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

For the turkey

1/4 cup ( 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into cubes

2 to 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 large celery stalks, rough chopped

1 large lemon, cut into wedges

3 shallots, rough chopped

6 to 8 cloves garlic

1 bunch fresh thyme

1 bunch fresh sage

1 bunch fresh parsley

1 medium onion, rough chopped

8 to 10 black peppercorns

2 (12-ounce) cans or bottles pale ale

For the gravy

Neck and giblets

1/2 cup pan drippings, with fat

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

3 1/2 to 4 cups low-sodium broth or stock

1/2 cup pan drippings, fat removed

1/4 cup dry white wine

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/2 cup shallots, finely chopped

2 teaspoons fresh sage, finely chopped

2 teaspoons fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Make the herbed salt rub: Combine all ingredients in small bowl.

Prepare the turkey: Pull fat from cavities. Place turkey – along with neck and giblets – in baking pan. Sprinkle inside and out with herbed salt. Cover. Refrigerate 12 to 24 hours.

Roast the turkey: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Rub butter into turkey; tuck a few cubes into cavities. Spread mustard thinly over the bird. Fill cavities with celery, lemon, shallots, garlic, thyme, sage, parsley and onion. Loosely tie legs together. Pour in beer. Baste with beer and pan juices every 30 minutes. Continue roasting until the thickest part of the thigh hits 165 degrees. Add water or stock to the pan if it becomes dry. Cover if bird browns too quickly. Tent loosely with aluminum foil and let rest 20 to 30 minutes before serving. Reserve roasting pan with juices for gravy.

Make the gravy: Remove neck and giblets from roasting pan. Finely chop giblets. Pull meat off neck and finely chop. Saute neck meat and giblets in skillet with about 1/2 cup fatty drippings from pan. Whisk in flour. Cook mixture about 2 minutes, whisking constantly, until roux is light brown. Add stock, pan juices without fat, wine, mustard, shallots, sage, thyme and bay leaf. Whisk until well blended. Bring mixture to a boil. Let simmer and thicken about 5 minutes. Remove bay leaf. Season with pepper, to taste. (For a smoother gravy, strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve.)

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