Sunday, December 27, 2009

BEER BUTT TURKEY - and 10 things about ME!!!

Here's my Christmas bird...

Have to be honest, it came out GREAT, but really I was going through the motions on this one. Little enthusiasm, so I didn't take many photos. Christmas Eve is a romantic time for Jackie and myself. We had been dating for three years, I already had a failed marriage and Jackie had survived the end of a 12 year relationship. Neither of us was in the mood to leap. But 13 years ago Christmas Eve, after 1,000 plus days of getting to know each other, we had one of those conversations. There was no knee, no ring and nothing formal... That would come shortly after. But a decision had been made, and ever since then, Christmas Eve has become "our" day. This year for Christmas Eve, I did something fun and special. But it will fit in better after the holidays are done, and closer to Valentines day. I took lots of photos, and have lots of posts to make about "our" day, so stay tuned.

But today... Let's see what going through the motions is to make a BEER BUTT TURKEY...

I couldn't wait, before I took a picture, I pulled off a wing to nibble!

First automatic "must do" is to BRINE YOUR TURKEY! If you have never added the step of brining, you are missing out on the single least used, but single best way to add moisture to a dry turkey.

Turkeys, by nature, are dry. In order to get the bird cooked all the way through, many parts are overdone by the time the center has reached temps. Brining is a way to keep the moisture on the bird. Remember this sentence... If you thought your turkey was a little dry this year... Add a brining step. It is easy.

Night before your cook...

A honey brine.

I assembled my brining liquid...

3 gallons of water
1 1/2 cups kosher salt
5 cups vegetable broth

1 1/2 cups honey
5 cups ice

Heat 1 gallon water and the salt. Stir til all the salt is dissolved. Add the honey, again, stir til dissolved. Dump into a clean cooler, mix together everything else and add the bird. This also works well in one of those BIG freezer bags. Don't add the ice, but put the bagged bird into a cooler and than add ice and some water to surround the bagged bird and keep it from getting to room temps.

Let sit for 12 to 24 hours.

I am lucky enough to own a special ceramic pan made special for Beer Butt cooking. Before I owned one of these, I would simply use a beer can in a large casserole dish. No photos, but here's the step by step guide...
  1. Bring the bird out of the brine and allow to drain. Pat dry with paper towels.
  2. While the bird is drying, open your beer and pour 1/3rd of the can down the drain (or find another way to dispose of a bit of the beer... DRINK IT!)
  3. Add 2 tablespoons of rub into the beer. It will foam up, so have this in your casserole pan before adding rub. Any of the commercial Cajun rubs work great for this.
  4. Back to the star of the show, the bird. Use your fingers to separate the skin from the breast meat. Do your best to not rip holes in the skin, but get as much of the skin separated as possible. Around the legs if possible, the back, etc...
  5. rub the skin and the meat that you separated from the sin with some Olive oil
  6. rub some rub inside the skin on the meat, as well as on the outside of the bird
  7. Balance the bird on the can, shoving the cavity of the bird so the beer can is inside. Use the legs to make a tripod.
  8. I cook low(ish) and slow(ish)... 300 degrees. It took 5 hours for my 12 pound bird to reach 170 degrees internal temperature. Be sure to check the temps at the thickest part of the breast, as well as the thigh meat.
One draw back to the type of cooking pan I use is that the lower section does not get that pretty color. But, I always remove the skin anyway (health and calorie concerns).

But the important part is the meat is moist and tender. the beer steams the meat from the inside, and combined with the brine produces an amazing turkey dinner!

Already, Jackie made a leftover dish of Turkey Tetrazinni, and I made an open face turkey/gruyere sandwich. Today I have to shovel the driveway so Jackie can get to her inconvenient day job. I will have a bowl of turkey chili waiting for me. And I saved an entire breast to make a turkey calzone!

My neighbor gifted us this bottle of wine and giggled the whole time. Not sure if it was a tribute to the smoked meat they ate all year, or if they were calling me a loon... But, the wine was great!

sugar doll award
And now... I GOT AN AWARD!!! the eggnog must have been flowing to convince DEBBIE, from Dining with Debbie to award the Fabulous SUGAR DOLL Blogger Award to me. After all, when you think sugar doll, Shirley you think of me (you can call me sugar doll, but not Shirley). Anytime a blogger thinks of me, I am honored, and I thank her very much.

Part of the "deal" is to name ten interesting things about me. I have a plan for January posts that will involve getting to know Jackie (my wife) and me better. So, I am going to try to share ten interesting things about my wife and me...
  1. We met in a bar. She was attending a bachelorette party. I had just entered a beer drinking contest (I didn't win, but I placed high enough to win a T-shirt... I gave it to her).

  2. I was a glorified traveling salesman when I met her, living in another state.

  3. After our second date, she ran my FBI file (I was surprised that I had one), as well as a criminal background check and my financial statement.

  4. I did not run any background check on her, but I later found out that she was escorted by the police of STURGIS, SD (yes, the motorcycle, Hell's Angels Sturgis) to the city limits and told to never return. She was caught beating the crap out of an old boyfriend.

  5. We moved in together after long distance dating for over a year. I moved out after less than 30 days.

  6. For one of the first meals, she made me while we were dating (tortellini), I threw in the trash during a huge fight. She has never made tortellini for me since.

  7. It took three years before we tried living together again (this time it took)

  8. We were married in Jamaica.

  9. We had three wedding receptions. Jackie wore the same dress at all three.

  10. She gave me Smoking (BBQ) lessons for Christmas three years ago, and it changed our life.
It has been an interesting 13 years, hope my little facts were interesting to you.

I am supposed to pass on my award... I want to share a fun site with you all that i have found. In another life, I was a book seller. I still read more murder mysteries than anything else (but cookbooks are growing in popularity). I have found a blog called, MYSTERY LOVERS" KITCHEN (click HERE to find it) that I am loving. They blog features rotating hosts, all with mystery novels (featuring cook related settings). I am a bit new to the site, but they have welcomed me with open arms.

So, I would like to challenge the lovely ladies of the M.L.Kitchen to provide 10 interesting snippets of their life...

Up for the challenge ladies???


  1. What a great story! That's kind of how my husband and I got "engaged." We had only dated about 5 months, but looked at each other and said "we should get married!" How about at Christmas time in Florida??

    That was 9 years ago and though we've been through a lot, I would happily do it all over again.

    Look forward to getting to know you and Jackie better in 2010! :D

  2. Thanks for the award! We are very honored! We'll be posting ten interesting things about our six authors soon.

    Your turkey looks fabulous, but you must have roasted it in the oven? I guess you'd have to have some kind of mega-grill to stand it up. Beer Butt Chicken is one of my favorites. It always turns out so moist. I have roasted turkey on the grill with very good results, too. We were socked with snow right before Christmas, and I had the grill standing by -- just in case.

    ~ Krista

  3. This Beer Butt Turkey looks awesome, and the Smoking Loon wine, too! Really enjoyed hearing the story of how you and Jackie met and your courtship. Congrats on your award, you deserve it and many more!! Cheers!

  4. Awesome! Very interesting facts about you and Jackie. This is proof that your Valentine's posts are going to be really interesting.

    I have yet to brine the turkey. After this past Thanksgiving and reading all the posts about the benefits of brining, including yours. I am planning to take the leap next year.
    Your beer butt turkey looks amazing. Yum!

    Smoking Loon is a good drinking wine- Very nice. A good everyday wine.

  5. Great looking turkey Dave! Smoking Loon is a great wine - I regularly partake in their viognier in the summer. Love the facts about you and Jackie :)

  6. You've convinced me; I'm brining the turkey next time!

  7. Good looking turkey Dave and neat story. I'm a big fan of the beer can procees and won't do them another way unless forced to - provides a much greater margin of error to still have a moist breast.

  8. I am shocked that someone can do an FBI & background check on you just like that. We have privacy laws up here that prevent that! Holy crap!

    Love the list, though, Dave, and your turkey looks spectacular.

    I'm actually on a bit of a blog break, which is why I haven't been around commenting as much. Just wanted to let you know.

  9. Aww, how sweet :)

    I'm wondering what type of job she had that she could run those checks....we didn't even have Google when I met my hubby 22 years ago, had to believe everything he told me :)

  10. Joining Krista in saying THANK YOU for the Sugar Doll Award! All of us "mystery writing cooks" think you're a doll, too!

    Your "interesting things" had me ROTFL, especially the FBI background check (had to call my husband over to tell him about that one and also encourage him to help us brine our next turkey, lol). And finally...

    Cheers to the man who used to sell us!
    (Um…I mean our books),

    author of The Coffeehouse Mysteries
    Mystery Lovers' Kitchen
    “Six mystery writers cooking up crime…and recipes.”
    “Where coffee and crime are always brewing…”
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  11. And I'm joining Krista and Cleo in saying "thanks!" for the award! In the South, we'd call it the Sugahhh Doll Award. :) You're sweet to think of us.

    Cool list of interesting things...thanks for sharing them. It's good to find out more about you!

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  12. LMAO over the Smoking Loon. What kind of barrels was it aged in, hickory or oak? ;)

  13. Thanks so much for participating! I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to pass on this particular award to you...and you made it fun to do so. I would love to meet your wife. She sounds terrific! The turkey looks terrific as well. I've done chicken this way but never a turkey. I may just have to have some of that Smoking Loon and give the turkey a try:) Happy New Year.

  14. Hi Dave... you have convinced me too. Next time I make turkey I am going to use a brine NO MATTER WHAT! My turkey did come out a little dry this thanksgiving... But I do have a question. Can I use a brine if I am only cooking a turkey breast? Not the while turkey?
    BTW... Mike and I were married in Jamaica also... In fact we go to Jamaica so much the Jamaicans call us Jamericians!
    Take care There...

  15. It's very cool that Christmas Eve is your day to celebrate and how you've set that time apart for just the two of you.

    You mentioned menu planning is on your list of resolutions for the year -- I have a short series about how we shop (, and the second week is when I talk about our menu planning.

    A few months ago, Happy Housewife also did a fun series on menu planning -- meal planning 101 ( during the month of August.

    Hope that's helpful!

  16. I've been preaching brine to anyone that will listen for 10 years! Thanks for adding your voice to help our mutual friends! I've been married 36+ years...Charles Manson will get out before I do.. :)

  17. I loved reading the tidbits about you and your wife. What a sweet post! It's so funny that you moved out after 30 days...definitely was NOT expecting that. And it's too bad that she won't make you tortellini anymore. I love those little packets of cheesy goodness.

    The turkey looks so delicious. Brining is always the way to go. I especially like hearing how you plan on using the leftovers. You've got me dreaming of turkey tetrazzini...

  18. LOVE your list. I am thinking of getting
    a smoker for the Hub. You'll have to advise me. And thanks for the Sugar Doll nod. That is a hoot!


  19. Awww, what a sweet post. Merry Christmas and I'm glad you had a perfect Christmas Eve celebration :)