A Tropical Thanksgiving: Hawaiian-Style Beer-Brined Turkey

Cooking with Beer by | Nov 2016 | Issue #118

Hawaiian-Style Beer-Brined Turkey
This year’s Thanksgiving feast is built around the flavors of the Hawaiian Islands. Inspired by hops with notes of pineapple, mango, and stone fruit, this recipe combines tropical hop-forward beers with fresh fruit and zest to create a flavorful turkey brine.

Makes: 10 quarts, enough for one turkey, 4 chickens or 10 Cornish game hens

2 qt water
2 cup kosher salt
1 1/2 cup brown dark sugar
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, cut into slices
1 large orange, zested and quartered
2 tangerines, zested and quartered
4 bay leaves, preferably fresh
1/2 fresh pineapple, trimmed of skin, cut into pieces
2 quart ice-cold water
72 oz Ninkasi Brewing Dawn of the Red India Red Ale or Maui Brewing Mana Wheat
1 turkey, 16 – 26 pounds, preferably free range, organic, or heritage

In a large stockpot, add the water, salt, brown sugar, crystallized ginger, orange, tangerines, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil. Cook the brine for 15 minutes to infuse the flavors together, dissolving the salt and sugar. Turn off the heat.

In a blender, add the pineapple and some of the water. Purée until smooth. Add the rest of the ice cold water to the brine, then add the pineapple purée along with the cold beer of choice. Mix to combine and take the temperature of the finished brine. A thermometer should read 40°F or lower. If it’s warmer, refrigerate the pot until it reaches 40°F.

Turkey Preparation
Unwrap the fresh turkey from its package in a large sink. Remove the neck, gizzards, and liver, setting them aside for stock or gravy. Rinse the bird under cold water, turning it a few times, washing any blood from the cavity and under the neck flap. Remove any remaining quills from the body. Lightly dry the turkey with paper towels.

Brining Instructions
Place the turkey into a food-grade bucket, large stock/brew pot, or a large, heavy-duty plastic bag. Top off with the chilled brine, submerging the turkey completely, and refrigerate for 24 – 48 hours (depending on size of bird). Keep the turkey and brine cold during this process. Rotate or flip the turkey every 12 hours to achieve an even marinade.

If cold space is an issue, place the turkey in a large cooler cleaned with a bleach-water solution and cover with the brine. Fill 1-gallon sealable bags with ice to keep the bird and brine cold without diluting the brine.

Oven Roasting
Remove the turkey from the brine and dry well with paper towels, inside and out. This will help the browning of the skin, as moisture will steam the skin instead of roasting it. Place the turkey, back side down, in a roasting pan fitted with a rack. Let it sit at room temperature for 2 hours prior to placing it into an oven. This enables the turkey to cook more evenly. Discard the brine.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (on the convection setting, if possible). Truss the bird with twine to help hold its shape and to aid in cooking it evenly. Insert a temperature probe into the middle of a breast or in the thigh. Make sure the probe isn’t touching a bone, as this will yield a false reading. A 16 – 20 pound turkey should take 3.5 – 4 hours to fully cook to 160°F. Check both the breast and the thigh temperature to make sure the turkey is evenly cooked.

Cover the turkey with a tent of aluminum foil and let it rest at room temperature for 20 – 30 minutes before carving. This will help re-distribute the juices, relax the muscle fibers, and keep the turkey moist. Then carve the bird, arranging the meat on a platter to serve.

Hawaiian-Style Rolls
These Hawaiian-style rolls play off the classic King-style roll, but with extra thought for the final flavor. While still slightly sweet with the same tender tear, these rolls have banana and clove notes from the Hefeweizen plus a touch of coconut from coconut sugar and coconut oil. I’ve also added diastatic barley malt powder, which has active enzymes (mostly amylase) that help the yeast convert the flour starches into fermentable sugars. This additive is popular in bagel doughs and enhances the final texture of these rolls, making a more tender and golden brown bread.

Makes: 16 rolls

Sponge Ingredients
1/4 cup bread flour
1 tbsp diastatic barley malt powder
1 tbsp active dry yeast (not instant)
1/4 cup water (between 85 – 90°F)

Dough Ingredients
1/2 cup beer, such as Hefeweizen, at room temperature
1/2 cup pineapple juice, canned or fresh, at room temperature
6 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil, melted
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup blonde coconut sugar
1 tsp sea salt
3 1/2 cup bread flour
1/2 cup barley flour

Egg Wash Ingredients
1 extra large egg
2 tbsp beer, such as Hefeweizen

Sponge Directions
In an electric mixer, add the bread flour, diastatic barley malt powder, yeast, and water. Mix with the paddle attachment until a wet dough forms. Turn the mixer off, letting the sponge sit for 15 minutes, re-hydrating the flour and activating the yeast.

Dough Directions
Add the Hefeweizen (rousing any yeast from the bottom of the bottle first), pineapple juice, melted coconut oil, eggs, coconut sugar, and salt to the mixing bowl. With the mixer on low, incorporate the sponge into the liquid ingredients, mixing for 1 – 2 minutes. Turn off the mixer and add the flours, then mix the flour into a dough on a low speed again. Once the dough is formed, it might be a touch sticky. Replace the paddle with a dough hook. Knead the dough for 5 minutes on a medium speed. Its texture will go from sticky to smooth and elastic, with nothing clinging to the sides of the bowl.

Transfer the dough to a clean bowl that’s been lightly brushed with oil to prevent sticking. Cover with a clean dish towel that’s been moistened with hot water and place the bowl in a warm (80 – 90°F) area to rise. After 90 minutes, check the dough. If it has risen and doubled in volume, then it’s ready to be formed into individual rolls. Touch the dough—if it springs back it needs another 15 – 30 minutes.

Roll out the dough and divide it into 16 equal-sized balls on a clean work surface. Arrange the dough balls in an even pattern in either a 9-by-13-inch pan or a 12-inch cast iron skillet lightly greased with oil so they’re not touching but have equal spacing. Cover the pan or skillet with plastic wrap for another 60 minutes until they have expanded and joined together. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Next, in a small bowl, whisk together the egg and 2 tablespoons of Hefeweizen to make an egg wash. Remove the plastic wrap from the pan, brushing the egg wash over each roll. Bake the rolls for 20 – 25 minutes, creating a golden brown top. The internal temperature should be 190–195°F. Let them cool slightly before consuming. Serve warm with the Thanksgiving meal, or see the following recipe to make them into a stuffing.

Polynesian-Style Stuffing
This stuffing recipe incorporates flavors from the Islands: Maui onions, Spam or Portuguese Linguiça sausage, macadamia nuts for texture, and Hawaiian-Style Rolls.

Serves: 8 – 10 guests

8 oz unsalted butter (2 sticks)
2 Sweet Maui or yellow onions, jumbo, peeled and diced into 1/4 inch pieces
2 stalk celery, washed and diced
1 tbsp Hawaiian Sea salt
1 tbsp fresh sage, minced
11 oz Portuguese-style Linguiça sausage (sliced) or Spam (diced)
2 cup pineapple, cubed (optional)
1/2 cup macadamia nuts, chopped
8 oz Hefeweizen
1 – 2 cup chicken or pork stock, preferably homemade
1 recipe Hawaiian-Style Rolls or 6 – 8 cups cubed bread

In a Dutch oven or pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onions and sauté for 6 minutes. Next, add the celery, salt, and sage, cooking for another 6 minutes. When the onions start to caramelize, add in either the Linguiça sausage or the Spam and brown the meat. This will take 6 minutes. Add the (optional) pineapple and the macadamia nuts, cooking for 4 – 5 minutes. Deglaze the pot with the Hefeweizen, then add 1 cup of stock. Mix to combine and turn off the heat.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Take the cubed bread and place it onto a sheet tray(s). Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, until dried out and lightly toasted. Add the bread to the pot with the other ingredients and toss to coat evenly. If the stuffing seems dry, add more stock, 1/4 cup at a time. The unbaked stuffing should be wet, but not pooling liquid in the bottom of the pan. Transfer the stuffing to a 9-by-13-inch pan, spreading it out roughly but evenly to create more surface area for browning. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes until the top is browned and the stuffing reaches 200°F. Serve immediately or tent with foil and keep warm.