This was the first Thanksgiving in 12 years that I did not serve a fried turkey for our family Thanksgiving meal. Since my mama-in-law shrinks away from fried foods, we decided to put the new PolyScience immersion circulator to good use and sous vide our turkey instead.

The result? A deliciously cooked turkey. The breast meat, of course, was not as juicy as it would have been had we fried it, but it was still very tasty and, fortunately, healthier. Plus the prep and cleanup were less involved: no turkey injectors, no huge vat of oil to siphon and discard, no huge pot to clean.

In the next few weeks, I’ll return to recipe posting—look out for recipes for all the dishes we made for Thanksgiving 2013, and recreate them for your holiday meal at the end of December. Remember, if the Blind can Cook it, you know you can too.

Recipe: Sous Vide Turkey

Summary: You’ll need the following toys: (1) a PolyScience immersion circulator; (2) a vacuum seal system; and (3) a cooler or large bin.

Ingredients

  1. 1 (10 lbs) turkey, butchered into 2 boneless breasts, 2 bone-in wings, 2 bone-in thighs & 2 bone-in legs
  2. 1/2 lb rendered duck fat, divided
  3. 1 head garlic, divided, peeled & crushed
  4. zest of 2 lemons, divided
  5. approx 10 leaves fresh sage
  6. fresh thyme sprigs
  7. kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Fill your cooler/bin with cold water, making sure there’s enough water to cover all the turkey parts completely with ample room in between. Place the PolyScience immersion circulator in the water, plug it in, and set it to 63°C.
  2. Place each turkey part in its own bag, keeping the 2 wings in one bag, making sure all bags are roughly filled with the same amount of turkey. Divide duck fat (approx 3 tbsp each), garlic cloves, lemon zest, sage leaves, and thyme sprigs between the bags of turkey. Season the contents of each bag with salt & pepper to taste. Seal the bags, making sure there are no holes. Shake the sealed bags a little to get the goodness all around.
  3. When the water bath has reached the desired temperature, submerge the bags of wings, thighs, and legs in the water. Set timer for 30 minutes.
  4. After 30 minutes, drop in the remaining 2 bags of breast meat, and continue cooking for another 3 hours.
  5. Turn off the PolyScience, fish out the bags. Let cool slightly before cutting open bags and removing the turkey. Over medium-high heat in an iron skillet, sear the turkey parts until the skin is crisp.

Preparation time: 30 minute(s)

Cooking time: 3 hour(s) 30 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 12

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10 Discussion to this post

  1. Alex says:

    Recipe looks great! We've even had success cooking the breasts as low as 61 C for 2.5 hours, although the differences are minor. Looks like you're having a great time learning all the ins and outs of your circulator, they're incredible pieces of technology! Hope to keep seeing more recipes posted, your connection to food and the intuitiveness with which you cook are inspiring!

    • Christine Ha says:

      Thanks for the comment and tip on the breast temp.

      • Alex says:

        Happy to share what little knowledge I can, and honestly I'm a little bit giddy to get a response from you! I literally read your cookbook cover to cover over the summer, and found it beautiful, inspiring, and well balanced. I loved watching you on MasterChef, rooting for a fellow Houstonian was a great time. I will be following your blog closely, you cook from the heart and make meaningful food.

        Hope you manage to do more pop-ups, your execution, presentation, and creativity are all top notch, and I'd love to experience your food firsthand.

        • Christine Ha says:

          Thanks for the flattering compliments! And glad you are reading my blog and enjoyed my cookbook. I hope to do a pop-up in the early new year, but time's been so limited.

  2. Alex says:

    Recipe looks great! We've even had success cooking the breasts as low as 61 C for 2.5 hours, although the differences are minor. Looks like you're having a great time learning all the ins and outs of your circulator, they're incredible pieces of technology! Hope to keep seeing more recipes posted, your connection to food and the intuitiveness with which you cook are inspiring!

  3. Alex Dunlevie says:

    I'll be waiting to hear the news!

    On a totally unrelated side note, a good friend of mine (and fan of yours!) waited on you at Downhouse in the Heights about a year ago and said you couldnt have been nicer.

    Thanks for making me feel like I got to chat with a celebrity today!

    • Christine Ha says:

      LOL No problem. And, yes, I think I remember that time at Down House. I'd come in with a girlfriend for the happy hour. I do remember the nice server.

  4. […] Turkey sous vide in duck fat with garlic, herbs, and lemon zest […]

  5. David Watkins says:

    1) could the thighs be left in the sous vide for 2-3 hrs more with the temp raised to insure they are tende?

    2) could th finish be done in a hot oven. Maybe with a coiple of minutes under the broiler to brown and crisp the skin nicely?

    Thx,

    David- Dallas

    • Christine Ha says:

      THanks for asking.1) The beauty of sous vide technique is if you employ the correct time and temperature, the food will cook perfectly. You will not need to keep the water bath going for any additional length of time. Sous vide is different from braising.2) Yes, broiling after sous vide cooking is an acceptable method to brown the meat nicely. Definitely crank the heat up in the oven and place it directly beneath the broiler for maximum effect. You can also use a salamander or, as we use in our home, a blowtorch.

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