Last year, I wrote a piece on how to pair a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with beer. ”How to Drink a Turkey Under the Table” was a fun look at the traditional holiday meal of turkey, potatoes, cranberries, stuffing, green beans, and pecan pie (with a few other options), but it was largely a very traditional meal. This year, I thought it would be fun to reach out to my beer blogging friends to see who had something different on their table, and boy did they come through with a wide variety of dishes! I’ve found recipes similar to what was described to me (including tips on how to make some of the recipes Vegan or Vegetarian) in order to protect family recipes that tend to not get shared. Let’s be honest here, family recipes are probably more closely guarded than the Crown Jewels or most national secrets!
G-LO from It’s Just The Booze Dancing
Today, Angelo’s Thanksgiving is pretty traditional, but growing up, it had some Italian flair. He described two items that were a staple: a stuffed capon and “ Escarole Soup made with chicken stock, escarole, beaten egg, chicken meatballs, tortellini, and served with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano.” Escarole is a bitter lettuce related to Belgian Endive. I chose to go with the soup as a nice option to have at the table.
I found this recipe that will work with only a few slight modifications: Meatball and Escarole Soup. To modify this recipe, you’ll need to pick up some prepared tortellini and substitute chicken for veal. You’ll add the tortellini into your simmering soup 15 minutes before it’s finished. To get the egg drop effect, crack 3 or 4 eggs into a bowl, add in a tablespoon or two of water, salt and pepper, then beat the mixture until it’s well mixed. Move the stuff in the pan over to clear a spot. Drizzle in the egg mixture. It’ll cook immediately so you can do this right before you’re finished.
Beer Pairing: Bavarian wheat ale. While the soup does have a lot of flavor to it, the flavor combination is well balanced and quite delicate. The carbonation of a good weise will counter the slight richness of the soup and cleanse the palate for the next spoon full. The citrusy nature of the beer will add a nice bright point while the wheat links up with the pasta. German hefeweizen are great with chicken sausage or meatballs while the slight sweetness of the beer will add a nice contrasting point with the bitterness of the escarole and the general salt flavors.
Oliver at Literature & Libation
Oliver grew up in a British household. He was born in the UK but his family moved to the US when he was very young. While Thanksgiving wasn’t native to their family traditions, like many immigrant families, they picked up the holiday but melded it with their own heritage. Oliver fondly recalled his father’s “Forcemeat Stuffing.”
I found this lovely recipe, Forcemeat Stuffing with Mushrooms, that will allow you include the fall bounty of all the fresh mushrooms that are flooding the better grocery stores and markets this time of year. Particularly in the Pacific Northwest, the mushroom harvest has been epic allowing for a huge abundance of both quantity and variety at very reasonable prices. This recipe is intended to be cooked inside your bird for 2-3 hours (assuming your bird is big enough!). If you wish to cook it on its own, put it in a baking dish, cover it with tin foil and cook it at 350°F for 30-40 minutes. Check to ensure internal temperature of the stuffing is at 155°-165°F. If you take it out and leave it covered, it will continue to cook with its own internal heat for a few more degrees.
Beer Pairing: This pairing calls for a mid-range malty amber style beer, such as: Belgian Dubbel, Brown Ale, Scotch Ale, or Dunkel Lager. You’ll want something a little heartier to pair up with all the pork and mushrooms, but not something overpowering. The mushrooms have a dark, earthy flavor that’ll add depth power to the pork and veal while the little bit of turkey liver will add a touch of meaty richness. Beers using darker roasted malts will link up nicely with these elements.
Bryan at This Is Why I’m Drunk
Bryan and his wife are vegetarians. While this is probably a harder proposition in North Carolina, I live in the Portland, Oregon and have many Vegan friends. So I’m familiar with the cooking intricacies required to satisfy ethical dietary needs. For a while, my sister was vegan and so I made vegan stuffing. If you know me or have read my piece on “How to Drink the Turkey Under the Table,” you’ll know that I loath traditional bread stuffing. So, I came up with an alternative. I decided to do Cabbage Stuffing. The great thing about this recipe is that you can serve it as shown in the recipe (substituting olive oil or vegetable oil for butter to make it fully vegan) or you can take another step and use it as your bird stuffing! It’ll take this stuffing recipe to the next level and will give you something different than the usual bread stuffing.
Beer Pairing: Flemish Red, Dunkel Lager, Marzen Lager. While cabbage is considered a green leafy vegetable, it’s actually quite complex in the flavor department. Mix in raisins and apples and you add a new dimension to consider. The Flemish Red matches the slight vinegar from the cider vinegar while the fruity esters will link up nicely with the raisins and apples, including some natural apple notes in the beer. The slight funk of the sour will also pair nicely with the funky earthiness of the cabbage. If you’ve ever walked in on someone cooking cabbage, that smell is very distinct! It’s also one that will go nicely with the Flemish Red. If you’re not into sours, you can take the heartier lagers of cabbage loving Germany to pair with this dish. The slightly sweeter malts will link up nicely with the fruit but the extra residual sugar will provide enough body to counter the heft of the cabbage.
Beer Suggestions: Rodenbach Grand Cru, Ayinger Oktoberfest, Weltenburger Dunkel.
Josh at Short On Beer
Josh’s Thanksgiving get its nontraditional flair from his wife. As he puts it: “My wife is Vietnamese so we usually have a couple funky dishes on that table.” While the one he sent might not be traditional to Thanksgiving, it’s one that I love to eat anytime. Vietnamese Spring Rolls will add a nice little twist on the traditional shrimp cocktail that many folks serve as an appetizer for the holidays. I found a really nice recipe that has step by step pictures so you can see exactly how to make this light and fresh intersection of Asia and Thanksgiving. You can substitute tofu strips if you wish to make this a vegan option.
Beer Pairing: Flemish Red, Pilsner, Helles Lager. This is a light and fresh dish. You’d think a Flemish Sour Red would be too much for it, and you’d be right if you’re serving vegetarian spring rolls, but Flemish Red and Shrimp are a perfect pairing. Seriously, the sweet/sour nature of the beer both compliments and contrasts the sweet/saltiness of the shrimp. It really is magic. If you want to go with something a bit lighter or crisper, the crispness of the a Pilsner will match up nicely with the sweetness of the shrimp while the malt will pair up nicely with the rice noodles. Helles Lager goes for even more harmony by giving a nice bit of sweet, breadiness to link up with both the rice and the shrimp while the crisp carbonation accentuates the slight “sea” nature of the shellfish.
Scott at beerbecue
Scott is one of the more humorous beer bloggers out there and can often elicit many a chuckle over BBQ and beer. In true Scott fashion, he came through with a great piece of Americana with his “Ralph Salad.” It’s actually titled “Pineapple Salad” but as you can see from the picture, someone has given it an editorial name. To quote Scott: “We do have one thing passed down from my great grandma, which we affectionately call Ralph Salad…because, well, it look like someone ralphed in a bowl.” I knew immediately what he was talking about! My family had several versions of this salad that would make appearances at the holidays. And he’s right, they looked weird but were pretty darned tasty! Although, most of my family’s recipes included Cool Whip as part of the gooey mixture.
Beer Pairing: Wow! What do you do with this recipe? This looks like a sweet salad with some earthy nuts mixed in. I’m going to go from a couple different angles here. Belgian White, Geuze, Raspberry Lambic, Brown Ale, Doppelbock. I know, you can’t get a much more disparate group of beers, but let’s see what happens.
Geuze is a natural fit for the pineapple. They’re both sour and often a geuze will have a bit of pineapple aroma to it (although this may be a bit too intense for some folks). The acidity should slice through the sugar and marshmallows to give a nice sweet-tart effect. The Raspberry Lambic is doing some gentler but similar things, but mixing in another fruit to give a more fruit salad kick.
But what about the brown ale and the Doppelbock? Well, these guys are going to make it more of a pineapple upside down cake experience. The bready, malty nature of brown ale will form the cake base for the pineapple while the earthiness will link up nicely with the nuts. This also should form a nice foil to the sweetness. The doppelbock will do the same thing, but on steroids!
The Belgian White will form the most balanced approach. The light citrus notes from the orange and coriander will link up with the pineapple while the crisp wheatiness will balance out the sweetness and make friends with the nuts. Then, the carbonation will wash the whole thing down leaving you ready for more.
Until Next time…
Thanks to all my beer blogging friends who participated! You’re traditions make the holiday that much more interesting and hopefully someone one else will inspired to try one of your traditions out and make it part of their family’s Thanksgiving. I think about beer would like to wish all you a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving enjoyed with those you care about.
What are you’re family traditional foods? Post them in the comments and let’s see what we can pair with them.