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Milk Street: The New Home Cooking

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Skip the culinary gymnastics and focus on the basting

Brown Ale Turkey and Gravy

3½ hours 30 min active

How to roast the Thanksgiving turkey has turned into an annual ordeal. The debate over brining alone is enough to make one consider going vegetarian. And of course there’s the finicky business of how to get the thigh and breast meat to cook to perfect—yet different—temperatures simultaneously. We knew we had been overthinking this for far too long. So we decided to skip the culinary gymnastics and instead perfected a tried-and-true method: basting. But better. We douse our bird twice—no need for constant babysitting—with a reduction of brown ale and fresh herbs, which combine to form a rich, malty base. We also use a secret ingredient in the baste: fish sauce. It adds savory depth that shows up in umami-rich gravy, made from pan drippings. And don’t worry, it doesn’t taste at all fishy. A foil wrap traps the moist heat needed to get succulent breast meat; it’s removed about halfway through to develop that crispy mahogany skin that we crave.

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