logoI know this will be old news for most of you, but we have to recap the big story of the NFL offseason for those that haven’t heard.

A legendary figure makes a return to Foxborough today. A legendary figure that retired, a figure that touched every team and every fan in some way. A legendary figure from a land of cheese and odd Germanic accents.

Entire training camps were affected by the loss of this legend – nay, an entire league was affected by the loss of this legend. Suddenly when all seemed lost, this legendary figure decided to return to us. And instead of returning miles and miles away, this legend decided to set up shop in New York.

Of course I am talking about the folding of the NFL Europa developmental league. Who could forget this past offseason when we lost NFL Europa! All was not  lost – as part of the closure, the NFL relocated the Amsterdam Admirals to New York, replacing the Jets. Jets fans finally have something to believe in.

For some reason the NFL has decided to cover up this story. Usually Goodell loves attention, so I’m not sure why he’s trying to hide the folding of the Jets. We at the Buffet Table welcome our new Dutch rivals, the New Amsterdam Jets. I am sure they will provide a greater challenge than we’re used to seeing from  the New York Jets, and competition is what sport is all about. That is nothing to be embarrassed about, Commish! Come on out and take credit! Awwwllright Jets fans!!!

For such a momentous occasion the Patriots Daily Buffet Table will give Thanks. Tis’ the season for Cranberry Glazed Turkey Breast.

Vaderlanders Dagelijks Buffet Tafel Turkey
Serves 4

2 pound Turkey breast – boned
Butchers twine or metal shishkebob skewers
1 can of cranberry sauce
1 bottle beer (see below)
Dried sage – to taste
1 orange (optional)

You can buy the turkey breast boned and pre-rolled at most grocery stores. Many also sell 1/2 and full breasts prepared in the same manner as a chicken breast. We don’t want skinless for these, try to get one with some fat on it.Since we’ll be cooking indirectly over a medium-hot 350 degree grill, place a disposable pan under the turkey to catch the drippings.

Open the can of cranberry sauce and slice into rounds. It would be best to do this ahead of time. Put the turkey breast into the disposable pan and surround with the cranberry sauce. Add water or beer. The cranberry sauce will melt as the grill warms, and mixed with the drippings from the turkey, it will make a glaze. Sprinkle the sage over the sauce and turkey. Optionally add a few orange slices to the pan as well.

Depending on your grill and the size of the turkey breast this will take 45-90 minutes to cook. The wide range is due to the indirect cooking method. So make sure you keep the lid closed apart from when it’s time to glaze or check the bird to see if it is done. Opening the lid will let out most of the heat trapped inside the grill.

Time for a drink!

When matching a beverage to poultry, the sauce and preparation are more important than the protein. As long as it isn’t one of the fattier or gamier birds such as goose or duck, poultry is a blank slate. There is a reason people say everything tastes like chicken.

What is most important here will be the sweetness, fruitiness, and tartness from the cranberries and possibly the oranges, along with the earthiness and spicy flavors from the sage.

The turkey will go great with a Pumpkin ale. Pumpkin ales may seem like a modern style, but pumpkins were actually used to brew beer in the seventeen hundreds. The pumpkin ales we have today are just a rebirth of this traditional style. There is even a recipe for Pumpkin Ale found in George Washington’s journals.

The base beer can vary, usually in the amber or brown ale range. Some pumpkin beers can be based on a lighter style, and some are based on Porters and Stouts. In general they are fruity, earthy ales, with toasted and roasted notes. Some of the beers follow more of a Pumpkin pie formula with nutmeg, cinnamon, clove and other fall baking spices. Other examples will use actual fresh or canned pumpkin for their sugar and flavor contribution to the beer. Either way Pumpkin Pie or Pumpkin will have a flavor similarity when eating food reminiscent of Thanksgiving.

Southern Tier Brewing of Lakewood, NY has gone from a solid brewery to one of the most innovative American breweries in a few short years. This week we’ll be drinking their Pumking Imperial Pumpkin Ale. It’s a pumpkin pie in a glass, with graham cracker, pumpkin, cinnamon and nutmeg flavors. A very good beer from a brewery that makes a lot of very good beers.

A second from New York is Saranac Pumpkin Ale. Saranac lists this one as having 5.4% alcohol by volume. Spiced with pumpkin, cinammon, allspice, cloves, ginger and vanilla.

A few New England breweries also get into the Pumpkin beer game. Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale is one of the lightest colored examples. It is also probably the most balanced and drinkable of the lot. This one won’t burn you out from spice overload.

Shipyard Pumpkinhead takes the pumpkin ale in a different direction. They start with a base wheat beer. Pumpkin pie starts with a wheat crust so why not.

Pumpkin beers based on dark ales are well represented on Cape Ann. Stone Cat Pumpkin from Mercury Brewing in Ipswich is based on a porter. Cape Ann Fisherman’s Pumpkin Stout comes from Cape Ann Brewing in Gloucester. Obviously based on the Stout style. From these two beers expect pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice flavors, and in addition they will have the chocolate, coffee, and roast flavors of a stout or porter.

Otter Creek/Wolaver’s has a new pumpkin beer this year. Will Stevens’ Organic Pumpkin Ale. Will Stevens being the farmer that grows the pumpkins. It is organic, but we try to not hold that against beer at the Buffet Table.

As we’re talking about a beer brewed with an uncommon ingredient it would be a surprise if Dogfish Head Brewing didn’t make a pumpkin beer. They do not disappoint with their Punkin Ale. Being Dogfish Head, this one is off centered even for an off center style. The addition of brown sugar bumps the alcohol by volume up to 7%.

Those are some of the best Pumpkin beers on the market. This is a style that most brewpubs will feature during the season. I’ve already seen Pumpkin Porters, Pumpkin Amber Ales and even a Pumpkin Hefeweizen. So if you have a brewpub close by, check it out and see what they have. Cambridge Brewing Company  in Cambridge, MA has two on currently. Gourd of the Rings, a pumpkin Saison, and Great Pumpkin Ale.

Chef’s ‘Buffet Table’ appears before every Patriots home game on Patriots Daily. He can be reached at feedback@patriotsdaily.com.