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Sake Eats – Chef Riley’s True Sake Turkey Recipe

A typical scene in the holiday household of a sake man and his daughters:

(Father Enters Stage Left)
Father: “What are we going to make with sake this Thanksgiving?”

(Two Daughters Sitting At Table Stage Right
Daughters in unison: “Oh god here we go again”

Sake Eats November 2016 A

(Father Rapidly Approaching The Table And Mumbling To Himself)
Father: “Sake muffins? Sake cakes? Bobbing for sake? Sake spreads? Sake eggnog?”

(Two Daughters Acting As If To Leave Quickly)
Daughters: “No!” “Please not the sake eggnog!”

(Father Arriving At The Table Sounding Surprised And Disappointed)
Father: “What?” “What was wrong with the Niigata Eggnog?”

(Daughters Standing To Leave)
Daughter 1: “It nearly killed the neighbors!”
Daughter 2: “You swore never again after they didn’t press charges!”

(Father Looking Suddenly Dejected)
Father: “Then What?”

(Daughter 1 Smiling Keenly)
Daughter 1: “I’ve got it!” “Let’s prepare a turkey with a sake rub!”

(Daughter 2 In Approval)
Daughter 2: “A Sake Turkey?”

(Daughter 1 Turning To Father)
Daughter 1: “Okay Eggnog boy! We’ve got you covered. We will make a perfect sake turkey that will rock your sake world!”

(Father Looking Slightly Shocked And Surprised)
Father: “How do we make the turkey drink the sake?”

(Daughter 1 Slaps Her Forehead)
Daughter 1: “How do you put your pants on in the morning?”

(Daughter 2 Walking Away in Disgust)
Daughter 2: “Now we know who’s chopping the onions!”

Sake Eats November 2016 B

Herewith is Daughter 1’s Sake Turkey Recipe with cooking instructions et. al.! And since the fellow who played “The Father” is usually banned from the kitchen on all major holidays he was tasked with selecting a good sake to use in the recipe.

What makes for a good sake to baste and cook a turkey? I’m a firm believer in using sakes that have strengths. Of course you could use a well-balanced brew that is even keeled and uneventful. But why? It’s better to pick a trait and go at it! In this regard I thought a dry sake with body would stand up to the butter and juices. I think a sweet sake in this context would cloy and push against the savoriness, whereas a drier sake would work in harmony with the buttery goodness.

I chose the Tsukasabotan Senchu Hassaku “The Great Plan”

Once my job was done I was relegated to the “other room.” And I was told to “Stay in the other room!”

So without further adieu I give you Riley Timken’s amazing True Sake Turkey Recipe in her words:


  • 1 (preferably brined) whole turkey
  • 3/4 a cup of salted Butter
  • Cheese cloth
  • 2 cups of Turkey broth
  • 1 1/2 cup of sake
  • Salt and pepper


Sake Eats November 2016 C

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Remove the turkey neck and giblets.
  3. Pluck any of the remaining feathers and then stuff about 2 tablespoons of butter under the turkey’s skin using your fingers to massage it under the loose skin.
  4. Now place your stuffing of choice into the turkey if you so choose.
  5. Place the turkey on a rack in the roasting pan and pour the turkey broth into the bottom of the pan to help the basting process later.
  6. In a saucepan, melt the rest of your butter and add 1 cup of sake; once the butter is fully melted place the cheesecloth into the mixture to soak up the fluid.
  7. Take the butter-drenched cheesecloth and drape it over the turkey pouring the excess butter and sake over the turkey; salt and pepper your bird to your liking.
  8. Place the turkey in the oven and baste all over every 30 minutes with the drippings from the bottom of the pan including the last half-cup of sake.
  9. Roast for about 4-5 hours or until when you insert a thermometer it reads 180 degrees F (80 degrees C)
  10. Once the turkey is done let it sit and then slice up the delicious sake infused bird.

By all means please see our Top Ten Turkey Sakes to pick a sake that would dance best with your Turkey Bird! One very fun play may be the Nama Tsukasabotan that was used in the recipe!

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