Thanksgiving can be a stressful day, especially if you are in charge of the centerpiece of the meal – the turkey. I am always looking for new and innovative ways to make my turkey better as well as saving as much time as possible for “day of” prep. I print and test all my recipes ahead of time, do my shopping the week before (leaving time for forgotten items), chop my vegetables so they are ready to go, and now, thanks to tips from Sous-Vide Magazine, I can have much of my turkey prepped beforehand as well using one of my favorite cooking methods.
Lemon Rosemary Sous-Vide Turkey with White Wine Gravy
Sous-vide is a cooking method where food is sealed in an airtight container and precision cooked in a water bath at a constant temperature. While the method sounds intimidating all you really need is the right equipment. And now there are so many types of sous-vide machines at a variety of price points, it’s no longer only for fancy restaurant chefs. A vacuum seal machine is key to achieve the best results; it controls an even temperature throughout the cooking process and helps to achieve consistency when cooking. It keeps the moisture locked in since it doesn’t give the juices anywhere to go.
Prepare to be amazed – you can sous-vide your turkey cuts as far as a month in advance by chilling, then freezing the bags. On Thanksgiving Day, reheat the turkey in the sous-vide water bath and then sear the pieces to complete the process just before serving. Due to limited fridge space I prefer to do the initial cooking a few days in advance and then keep the bags in the refrigerator.
Prepping the Turkey
For this recipe I bought a whole turkey then broke it down into dark meat and white meat before cooking rather than after. This makes it much easier to work with – especially because the dark meat and white meat can be prepared with different cooking times, thus ending with a juicier turkey. Whenever I sous-vide I add aromatics as well as butter to the bag with the meat before vacuum sealing it. For this recipe I have used rosemary, garlic and lemon as they add incredible flavor throughout the meat. While I go back and forth on adding additional fat like olive oil or butter to the bag I find it is often not necessary.
You will need an immersion circulator for sous-vide cooking as well as resalable or vacuum seal bags.
Tips and Tricks for This Recipe
If you do not have a vacuum sealer you can use the water displacement method to remove as much air from the bags as possible. While this is not the same as using a vacuum seal machine it is the best alternative.
Add the food to the re-sealable plastic bags according to the recipe then seal the bag almost completely, leaving about an inch or so open. Slowly lower the bag into a pot of water, and as the bag is lowered into the water the air will be pushed out of the bag. Just before the bag is completely submerged, seal off the bag completely and remove from the water.
Other Recipes to Try
If you enjoy this recipe, I recommend checking out some of these:
2cupsTurkey stock,made from reserved neck, giblets etc. or store bought turkey stock
Kosher salt,as needed
Freshly ground black pepper,as needed
For the Sous-Vide Turkey:
Start by butchering the turkey. Remove the giblets, and reserve if desired for stock or another use.
Use paper towels to dry out the turkey then lay the turkey on it’s back on a clean workspace. Pull each leg away from the body and use a large chef’s knife to slice between the leg and breast, then bend the leg away from the body to locate the joint. Cut through the joint and skin and remove the leg. Remove the wings by pulling each outward from the body and locate the joint, cutting where the wing meets the body and setting aside.
Using kitchen shears, cut down both sides of the backbone where it meets the rib cage and remove it, reserving for stock or another use. Place the bird breast-side up and press down to flatten it.Flip the carcass over, breast-side down, and cut through the cartilage that runs between the two breasts. Use a press down to snap the breast in two through the wishbone.
Season the turkey breasts with salt and pepper then place the breast halves into 2 large gallon size bag with a few sprigs of the rosemary, cloves of garlic and slices of lemon. Vacuum seal and refrigerate until ready to cook. Repeat with the legs, thighs and wings, seasoning and adding to separate bags with the aromatics and vacuum sealing. Separate into more bags if the vacuum sealer is smaller.
Prepare immersion circulator in large water bath according to manufacturer’s instructions. Preheat water bath to 149ºF (65ºC). Add the bags of dark meat to the water bath and cook for 6 to 12 hours (the longer it cooks, the more tender it will be). 4 hours before the dark meat is done cooking, lower the temperature to 140ºF (60ºC) and add the white meat to the water bath and continue to cook for an additional 4 hours.
Remove the bags from the water and either refrigerate until ready to serve, or if ready to serve, remove the meat from the bags and discard the aromatics. Pat the turkey pieces completely dry with paper towels.
Heat oven to broil on high. Add the turkey pieces to a baking sheet and broil until the skin is crispy and golden brown, about 4 to 6 minutes, checking the skin occasionally. Arrange on a large serving platter and cover with aluminum foil until ready to serve.
For the gravy:
Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the olive oil and heat through. Add the butter and allow to melt then add the shallots and rosemary and sauté until soft and opaque, about 5 minutes. Discard the rosemary sprig then whisk in the flour, continuing to whisk constantly until the roux turns a golden brown, about 3 minutes. Pour in the white wine and turkey stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer until the gravy coats the back of a spoon. Whisk in cream and season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep warm until ready to serve.
*Note: If you do not have a vacuum sealer you can use the water displacement method to remove as much air from the bags as possible. While this is not the same as using a vacuum seal machine it is the best alternative. Add the food to the re-sealable plastic bags according to the recipe then seal the bag almost completely, leaving about an inch or so open. Slowly lower the bag into a pot of water, and as the bag is lowered into the water the air will be pushed out of the bag. Just before the bag is completely submerged, seal off the bag completely and remove from the water.
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