Hey, I wrote a cookbook! The Essential Sous Vide Cookbook is currently #1 in its category.
Check it out:
Now let’s talk turkey.
The hardest part about making a great Thanksgiving dinner is timing. Did you give the turkey enough time to thaw completely? Are you sure? Plus everything needs oven time so when are you going to put each dish? In the past I’ve created massive spreadsheets to solve just this problem and carefully timed out my entire day to make sure everything comes together seamlessly. Add in a couple of late guests, a few glasses of wine, and all of that goes immediately to shit. Plus who wants to spend their entire day watching their clock (ok, asking Siri to remind them when it’s time to take out the potatoes) when there are friends and family to catch up with?
By cooking the turkey sous vide, you avoid half the hassle. Plus why spend all that time basting the turkey when it can be basting in its own juice is right in the bag? Cut the hassle this year and cook your entire turkey sous vide. Your Thanksgiving just got a lot easier.
Let’s break it down:
Of, first of all, you don’t want to cook the bird whole, because the giant air cavity in the middle means the heat won’t be distributed evenly. So break down your bird, have your butcher do it for you, or buy the parts separately—best for a family where everyone wants a drumstick! If you’re doing it at home, take out that neck and giblets packet:
In fact, just bag those up together on their own with some butter and herbs, and cook them too! They’re great on their own or in gravy. Mmmmm….. gravy.
Next, break down your bird into parts. Here I separated the wings, breasts, and legs, keeping the thighs attached. You can further separate drumsticks from thighs if you prefer.
Next, bag up your meats separately. I suggest one large freezer bag or vacuum seal bag per pair of legs, breasts, and wings. Be sure to separate light meat from dark, because they will cook at different temperatures.
Give them a rub down with your favorite seasoning mixture, or just use salt and pepper. Here I tossed in some sage and rosemary along with a few tablespoons of butter.
The trick is to start the dark meat at the higher temperature, cool the bath down, then add the white meat while the dark continues to hang out in the water bath.
After cooking, remove the meat from the bags, remove the herbs and strain out any liquids to be used for gravy later. Mmmm….. gravy.
Heat two tablespoons of oil in a saute pan until almost smoking and sear your turkey, skin side down, until nice and brown. Use tongs to move the pieces around so they get evenly browned all over.
Now you’re ready to serve! Here’s where I wish I had separated the thighs and legs earlier. I know drumsticks are a big deal at Thanksgiving, and while it’s easy enough to slice them apart now, they’d look prettier if I’d done it before searing.
Anyway, there will be no fighting over who carves the turkey this year (or panic sweats about the proper way to do it if it’s your turn), when you bring it out pre-sliced on a platter. Everyone will be eager to just dig in.
- 1 whole turkey or turkey parts (all drumsticks? I don't judge!)
- Salt + Pepper or your favorite rub
- 1 Stick of Unsalted Butter
- 4 Sprigs Sage
- 4 Sprigs Thyme
- 4 Sprigs Rosemary
- Canola Oil
- Defrost turkey if frozen.
- Prepare water bath and set temperature to 165°F.
- If starting with a whole turkey, remove the packaged gizzards inside the body cavity.
- Separate the thighs and drumsticks, wings, and breasts.
- Save the rib cage for stock or gravy.
- Season the turkey pieces all over with your favorite rub or salt and pepper.
- Prepare four gallon-sized vacuum-sealer bags or four zip-top bags. Place the thighs and drumsticks in one - making sure they do not overlap, add in 1 sprig of each herb, and two tablespoons of butter. You may need two bags depending on the size of the drumsticks.
- Put wings in another bag with 1 sprig of each herb, and two tablespoons of butter.
- Repeat with breasts.
- If cooking giblets, place giblets in separate bag and season as well.
- Seal with a vacuum sealer or use the water displacement method.
- Put the breasts in the fridge until later.
- Cook the legs and wings (and giblets if using) for 3 ½ hours.
- Chill the water bath to 146ºF by adding a few ice cubes until you reach the desired temp.
- Add the breasts (do not remove the legs and wings) and cook an additional 2 ½ hours.
- Remove meat from bags and pat skin dry with a paper towel.
- Heat two tablespoons of oil in a stainless steel or cast iron pan on high heat until it shimmers.
- Add turkey pieces, skin-side down, and sear until brown and crispy, around 3 minutes.
- Immediately add to an ice bath and chill for at least 30 minutes before placing in fridge.
- To reheat, put entire bags back in water bath at 146°F for 1 hour, then crisp up skin according to directions above.