A few things are almost certain to appear each Thanksgiving: the bird, the cumulus cloud of mashed potatoes, the green beans that looked a helluva lot better on Pinterest than in reality. Politics will be discussed—or, in some households, screamed about by your goth cousin and conspiratorial uncle—and pie will be served.
Another constant is the appearance of Thanksgiving beer pairing guides. (Hi, we published one ourselves.) But let’s get real: Most designated Turkey Day cooks know that there is simply no way in hell to find time to shake cocktails or parse out a flight of wines, let alone plan a course-by-course craft beer pairing while you’re busy making myriad other dishes.
So we decided to kill two birds with one stone—or kill just the one bird twice, or something. You get the drift. Point is: We put the beer in our recipes.
And before you ask, no, we’re not trying to get your 8-year-old niece drunk! The beer in each of these recipes (developed by the inimitable Ben Mims and photographed by the ridiculously talented Liz Clayman) is for flavor only. But since there’s bound to be some leftover brews from your ingredient shopping trips, that solves the problem of what your guests will drink, too. Ta-da, you’re welcome.
Check out all of our beer-infused Thanksgiving recipes below, and click through to find the recipe for each one.
“Tall Boy” Turkey with Lemon, Chile, and Thyme Butter
You’ve heard of beer can chicken. Pshaw. This year we’re kicking it up a notch by gently inserting a whole damn tall boy into our bird, which imparts a lightly beery flavor and blends with the turkey’s juices in the pan. Yes, you’ll save those delicious juices for making gravy while your turkey rests. A compound butter (a.k.a. butter with tasty stuff in it) goes under the skin, ensuring moist and flavorful meat. The best part? The can keeps the bird propped up and standing tall even after if comes out of the oven, and your guests will surely ooh and ahh and wonder what kind of David Blaine magic this is.
Kale, Radicchio, and Pear Salad with Shandy Vinaigrette
This dish sounds a lot more fancy than it is—like something you’d spend $23 on at a place where the food is served on pieces of reclaimed floorboards and brought to you by a guy named Brad who wears a leather apron and crosses your personal space threshold just a hair too much. In reality, however, this is simple as all get-out. The quick dressing is made with a base of lemon juice and hefeweizen, which is then tossed over your pears and veg before being topped with a few curls of good cheese. Buzz off, Brad.
Braised Squash with Pale Ale-Honey and Sunflower Seed Gremolata
Squash can be a hard sell for guests with more primitive palates—but they’ve never had squash braised in beer. You’ll convert any gourd skeptic with a sweet squash (something like delicata or honey nut) that’s been slowly cooked in a pan full of pale ale, drizzled with honey, and sprinkled with sunflower seeds and sourdough bread crumbs. And what a beaut it is on the plate!
Roasted Russets with Abbey Dubbel-Mustard and Thyme Salt
No one’s saying you can’t have mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving, but if there were ever a holiday in which it’s acceptable to carbo-load with multiple potato dishes, it’s this one. Give your dinner guests another starch option with these roasted russets, which are first boiled to give them a nice outer skin that’ll crisp up in the oven. For the savory and lightly spicy sauce, a rich and malty Abbey Dubbel tangles with sour cream and whole-grain mustard. To quote Missy Elliot, these potatoes are funky, fresh dressed to impress, and ready to party.
Sour Beer Pecan Pie
No cheffy tricks here. We just really love pecan pie, and we were determined to put some damn beer in it. Turns out that a sour beer is exactly what we needed. See, even the best pecan pie is basically just a block of caramelized sugar and nuts, for better or for worse. But the acidity of a sour helps to cut that sweetness, adding a new layer of flavor and even bringing out the nuttiness of the pecans a little more. Because what is Thanksgiving if not a celebration of all of the sweet and nutty loved ones in your life?