Dogfish Head Raison D’Etre

[Editor’s Note: I promised to post this last Thursday on Thanksgiving but got a bit behind. In the meantime I’ve been eating a lot of turkey]

I drank beer for Thanksgiving Meal
I actually had beer with the Thanksgiving Meal

M rs. Dan is a bit competitive. Last Thanksgiving she challenged me to a turkey cook off. Each of us would produce a turkey and the one producing the best bird wins. We invited friends to try each bird and vote. I did my usual Beer Butt turkey but had to settle for a 8 lb bird since the grill was too shallow to hold a larger bird upright. She did something fancy using a new electric roaster. That was last year. I can’t remember exactly what she did other than the roaster… except I do remember what I had to drink. I had a Dogfish Head Raison D’Etra. It is an excellent turkey beer.

My mother would have probably smacked me up side the head for having a beer bottle on the Thanksgiving table. It would have been worth the smack.

The gauntlet was thrown down again this year by Mrs. Dan. By the power invested in her by the interweb she crawled over all sorts of turkey recipes and chose a Porcini Mushroom Turkey cooked in her beloved electric roaster. (The recipe also calls for a mushroom gravy) Me, armed with a new grill bought over the Summer, considered buying a rotisserie and having a rotisserie turkey. As usual I procrastinated on buying the rotisserie attachment. The shipping would push it to around $70. I’m cheap. I would surrender to Mrs. Dan before spending $70 just to compete. I found the next best thing at Cabela’s. A Turkey Cannon.

A Turkey Cannon is nothing more than a sideways beer butt cooker. A long slender tube with side vents that is angled so that the bird is suspended above the grill grates. You fill the tube with herbs, wine or beer. The heat will cause the liquid to steam cook the bird from the inside. Two spike like things help suspend the bird.

Leave this thing out on the kitchen counter and guests might think you’re into something kinky.

The Turkey Cannon looks like something you would ship in a discreet brown box from Lucy’s Love Shop. Leave this puppy out on the countertop when friends are over and they will be worried about what kind of party they’ve been invited to.

Basically I settled on a sideways Beer Butt. That’s nothing new. I needed a recipe. I thought back about our little Screw The Greek Festival Anti-Festival a couple of weeks back (we boycott the annual Greek Festival because it’s gotten way too expensive and the music is so loud that even Ozzie Osborne would complain. We have our own fun preparing Greek dishes). I was thinking… how about a Greek Turkey.

I think I might be onto something new here because I couldn’t find one Greek Turkey recipe. I found a Greek Marinade recipe that is usually used for chicken (the identical recipe was found several sites) and marinated the turkey for 12 hours in a cooler in the backyard. We doubled the recipe. (NOTE: we used the largest bag we could find, a large Reynolds Turkey Baking bag, to marinate the bird. It was designed for baking not marinating. Luckily we double bagged it because the first bag sprung a leak. Might want to do this outside.)

Olive oil, rosemary, thyme, lemon juice, garlic, Dijon mustard, parsley and oregano. Pretty simple.

The in-laws were in town so they recruited help in the contest. Mr. Mrs. Dan-in-Law came to my rescue. We prepped the marinade the night before, tossing the bird in the cooler around 11PM.

When we pulled it out the next morning the oily mixture was congealed all over the bird. It sure smelled good.

I decided to carry out the Greek theme a bit further. I decided to have Greek Potato stuffing. The recipes on the interweb are for roasted Greek Potatoes. There was no mention of other styles of Greek Potatoes.

So, here is my very own recipe.

4 small unpeeled red potatoes diced into small cubes
1/2 cup feta cheese
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon thyme
1 crumbled up leftover sausage from breakfast
1 crumbled up slice of bacon from breakfast
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 glove of garlic
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Mix it all up and cram it in the neck of the bird and seal it with the flap of skin with a toothpick.

Actuality I just added these items freely. The potato count is accurate. The measurements just make it look more professional. I probably had more feta cheese and garlic. I plan to make this again and this time I will write down the measurements.

All I know is that this tasted damn good. Greek Potato Turkey Stuffing is great. I hereby claim myself as its inventor. (Which is a joke. Someone will steal this in no time and declare their own on a half dozen recipe sites).

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Back to the bird

When it comes to actually cooking with the Turkey Cannon the first time is a bit screwy. The instructions on how to cook the bird are pretty worthless. They basically say, clean the bird and dry it, set the grill on medium and cook until the thigh is around 173. Thermometers on grills are as accurate as Auburn’s quarterbacks. What the heck is “medium” on a gas grill. And trying to determine where the thigh on a turkey requires a veterinarian. I bought 2 new wireless thermometers so we each could follow the progress our of birds remotely. But if you don’t get the temperature probe into the thigh you’re just guessing. I wasn’t sure so I erred on letting it cook. The probe said it was ready in about a little over an hour. I dropped the heat and went longer…. a bit too long. I think I dried it out a bit. I think the thermometer was correct. The skin was a bit crispy but the meat was still moist. We let it rest in aluminum foil for 30 minutes. The aroma of that bird cooking was driving me crazy.

We also injected the marinate into one side of the breast. The herbs kept clogging the injector so we didn’t do much. In the cannon we loaded it with some well aged white wine we had set aside for making white wine vinegar. To that we added some fresh rosemary from the garden plus some fresh thyme.

[quote] What the heck is ‘medium’ on a gas grill [/quote]

So, I’ll also claim inventing the Greek Turkey. I can’t find any recipes calling for marinating a turkey. Brining yes, marinating no.

The verdict is: it’s pretty good…. not great. The lemon juice is a dominant flavor. It produces different flavors in the dark and white meat. The white meat was good. The dark meat was interesting. The concept of marinating a bird is worth pursuing. I think a recipe without the lemon juice might be worth trying. I consider this groundbreaking research. I’m thinking of making one for Christmas Dinner as well.

As for the Turkey Cannon I think it’s pretty good. With some refinement I think it will be a great addition to my turkey cooking arsenal.

The advantage of this year’s turkey cookoff is that we had 2 extra adult mouths in the house. Last year it was 2 birds for 2-1/2 people. The kitchen counter was covered in turkeys.

The sad part of any Thanksgiving meal is by the time you pass the potatoes, pass the gravy, pass the cranberry relish, the turkey is cold. But even cold I have to say the winner of this year’s Turkey Throwdown is ….. Mrs. Dan.

Mrs. Dan’s Porcini Mushroom Turkey wins

Her Mushroom bird was very good. Not to say mine sucked. It was good too. But her flavors were a bit more mellow. That just adds fuel to the competition because next year I’ll have perfected my marinating techniques and I’ll kick some butt.

So, back to the Turkey Beer. Over the years I’ve enjoyed some Gewürztraminer with my bird. Slightly spicy and sometimes slightly sweet, depending on the brand, it always provides a good compliment to turkey. When drinking some Raison D’Etra I thought the spices and flavors would go good with bird. And I was correct. It does go very well with turkey.

Here’s how Dogfish Head describes it: “A deep mahogany, Belgian-style brown ale brewed with beet sugar, raisins and Belgian-style yeast.
We began brewing this one at our pub in 1996 (we began packaging and selling it sometime in 1998) as the answer to the question, “What beer should I enjoy with a wood-grilled steak?” Raison D’Etre fits the bill. It’s as tasty and complex as a fine red wine.”

This beer is complex but I think it compliments turkey the way that cranberry relish compliments it.

We did open a bottle of Bicyclette Chardonnay that was gifted by Auntie Carol in Michigan. (No one expressed interest in having a beer with me). The Chardonnay was pretty good with turkey as well.

I also have to give a thumbs up to Mrs. Dan mushroom gravy. She deviated from the recipe and added some truffle oil.

So this year’s Turkey Throwdown is over and I’m stuffed. We’ll be eating turkey sandwiches for a long time.
From: Milton, Delaware
Brewery: Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales


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