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Stress-Free Sous Vide Turkey Day Prep

Stress-Free Sous Vide Turkey Day Prep

Posted by Sous Weed | Monica Lo | Avid Armor on Nov 18th 2022

Thanksgiving is quickly approaching and we cannot wait to devour all of the scrumptious holiday food!!

Cooking sous vide is our favorite way to prepare Thanksgiving dinner - main course and sides dishes, so this year, we partnered with Monica Lo (Sous Weed) and the Sous Vide at Home Cookbook to bring you two different ways to prepare sous vide Thanksgiving turkey that is sure to be a hit at the dinner table! 

Sous Vide Turkey Mise En Place 

It’s two weeks before Thanksgiving, my turkey is prepped and cooked. I'm sitting pretty for Turkey Day!

I served dry turkey once years ago and it honestly still haunts me. Since then I've been vigilant about cooking turkey sous vide and not only is the meat super juicy, I can also prepare the bird far in advance so I can actually enjoy the holiday festivities. I'm hosting two dinner parties so my 12 lb. bird will be eaten at separate meals; my friends get a turkey roulade (made with white meat) and my family will enjoy the dark meat.

First, I break down the defrosted turkey and organize the parts by dark meat, white meat, back, and giblets. There are plenty of tutorials online for how to do it!

I use my Avid Armor Ultra Series USV20 Chamber Vacuum Sealer System to seal up the dark meat with salt, butter (or fun cannabis oil infusions), aromatics, and herbs. The tenderloins get sealed up with butter and no salt for my baby. My chihuahua gets the giblets. The back and neck get roasted and turned into stock and gravy. Nothing is wasted! Breaking down the turkey also frees up a lot of fridge space for sides and desserts. Just remember, it takes 1-3 days to defrost your turkey in the fridge (depending on the size) so plan ahead! 

My Friendsgiving turkey roulade is rolled with a filling of toasted panko, fennel seeds, shallots, garlic, lemon zest, fresh rosemary, oregano, and prosciutto. It's rolled up tight, tied, and vacuum sealed.

Turkey Roulade Stuffing

Sealed Turkey Roulade

All the bags of meat go into the water bath at 65ºC (149ºF) for 4 hours. Once it's done, drop the bags in an ice bath to quickly chill then store in the fridge or freezer until the day of the dinner. Before serving, reheat the turkey in a 55ºC (131ºF) water bath for at least an hour then quickly pan sear for golden brown skin. 

Pro tip: you can also keep your side dishes warm in the water bath to free up your stove! Happy feasting!

Sous Vide Turkey

Finished Turkey Roulade

   

For a more traditional spin on Thanksgiving turkey, follow Sous Vide at Home Cookbook's recipe below!

Thanksgiving Turkey & Gravy Recipe:

Serves: 8 to 10 as a main course
Sous Vide Cooking Time: 10 hours (or up to 19 hours)
Active Prep Time: 1 1/4 hours

Turkey Ingredients:

1 (14- to 16-pound) turkey, preferably fresh, or fully thawed if frozen

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons sugar

Freshly ground black pepper 

2 to 3 sage sprigs 

1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter

Turkey Gravy Ingredients:

6 cups homemade turkey stock or 6 cups store-bought low-sodium turkey broth

2 to 3 shallots, finely minced

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup crème fraîche or heavy cream

2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage or thyme, or a mixture 

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

To butcher your turkey, place it on a clean cutting surface with plenty of space, such as a butcher block or clean countertop. 

First, remove the packaged gizzards and neck from inside the body cavity and set aside for stock. Using a chef's knife or a boning knife, separate the legs from the body by slicing through the skin where the breast and thigh meet and cutting through the hip joint. Set the legs aside. 

Next, remove the wings in the same way, slicing through the joint connecting the wing to the back. Remove the wing tips and save for stock, then set the wings aside. 

Lastly, remove the breasts by sliding the knife along either side of the breastbone, which separates the two sides of the breast, keeping the knife flush with the bone and scraping against it so as not to cut into the meat. Still using the bone as a guide, continue to slice the breasts away from the carcass until you reach the ribs, where the breasts end and you can cut through the skin. At the front end of the bird (by the neck cavity), carve around the wishbone, and you'll have completely separated the breasts from the carcass. 

Set aside the bones, giblets, neck, and wing tips to use to make stock.

Once the bird is completely sectioned, transfer the breasts, legs, and wings to a large bowl and season with the salt, sugar, and with a few grinds of pepper.

Place the breast halves and one sage sprig into an 11"x10" chamber pouch and vacuum seal using the USV20. Do the same for the legs and wings (depending on the size of your bird you may need to put the legs and wings in separate chamber pouches; put one sprig of sage in each pouch). 

At this point, place the turkey in pieces in the fridge until you are ready to cook; they will keep well for up to a week. (Not only will this stay in the fridge not hurt, it will actually help season the meat evenly.)

Meanwhile, make your stock for the gravy using the reserved bones, giblets, neck, and wing tips (Recipe in the Sous Vide at Home Cookbook). 

When the stock is done, strain it into a large saucepan and boil it over medium heat until it's reduced by half. 

If using store-bought turkey broth, you'll want to enrich its flavor by adding the reserved giblets and neck to the broth in a large saucepan and boiling over medium heat until reduced by half. Refrigerate until ready to use.

At least 10 1/2 hours before you plan to serve your turkey, preheat your sous vide water bath to 65 degrees Celsius (149 degrees Fahrenheit). 

When the water reaches the target temperature, lower the bagged legs and wings into the water bath (making sure the chamber pouch is fully submerged) and cook for a minimum of six hours or for up to 12 hours (perfect for starting the night before T-day). At this point, keep the breasts in the fridge, as they take considerably less time than dark meat.

At least four hours before you plan to serve the turkey, lower the temperature to 60 degrees Celsius (140 degrees Fahrenheit), letting the dark meat continue to cook in the bath. 

When the water reaches the new target temperature, add the bagged turkey breasts to the bath. Cook the dark and white meat for an additional four hours. 

At this point, the turkey will be fully cooked and ready to brown. (If you're more than 30 minutes away from serving, the turkey can be kept in the water bath for up to 3 hours longer.)

When you're ready to serve, remove both chamber pouches from the water bath, transfer the turkey pieces to a platter or tray, and reserve the cooking juices in the chamber pouches for making the gravy.

Using paper towels, pat the turkey pieces thoroughly dry.

Melt the butter in a large skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat until it has foamed, subsided, and begun to brown.

Working in batches, add the turkey pieces, skin side down, and sear, using a spoon to baste any skin that doesn't touch the pan with the melted butter, until golden brown and crisp, about five minutes per batch.

After each batch is browned and crisped, return the pieces, skin side up, to the platter.

When all of the pieces have been browned, cover the turkey loosely with aluminum foil to keep warm, or place in a 200 degree Fahrenheit oven.

Lower the heat under the pan to medium, and using the butter remaining in the pan from browning the turkey, proceed to make the gravy. 

Add the shallots and garlic, stirring and scraping with a wooden spoon or spatula to dislodge any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan, and cook, stirring constantly, until they begin to brown, two to three minutes. 

Add the flour, stir with a whisk to work out any lumps, and then cook, stirring constantly, until the flour-and-butter mixture bubbles vigorously, one to two minutes. It's fine if it browns a bit, but keep it moving so it doesn't burn.

Add the wine to the pan and stir vigorously until the mixture is smooth and bubbling once again, one to two minutes. 

Gradually pour in the reduced stock and the reserved turkey cooking juices while whisking constantly to avoid lumps. 

Once all of the liquid is incorporated, raise the heat to medium-high, bring the mixture to a simmer, and cook, stirring often, for about five minutes.

Stir in the crème fraîche or heavy cream and simmer for an additional five minutes.

The gravy should be thick enough to coat the back of your spoon or spatula. If it isn't, continue simmering until it is. 

Remove the gravy from the heat, stir in the sage, and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a gravy boat.

To carve your turkey, transfer the pieces to a large cutting board. 

Slice the breasts thinly against the grain.

For each leg, separate the drumstick from the thigh at the joint. Cut the thigh meat away from the bone and slice it thinly. Don't need to bother trying to carve meat from the wings or drumsticks; just separate the wings at the joint into sections. 

Transfer everything to a platter and serve with the gravy on the side.

To make this a holiday feast that is sure to impress, serve this Thanksgiving turkey and gravy along with Sausage Unstuffing, Easy Herbed Cranberry Sauce, and Perfect Mashed Potatoes! All of those delicious sous vide recipes can be found in the Sous Vide at Home Cookbook.

For more Sous Vide Cannabis-Infused Recipes by Monica Lo:

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Photography by Monica Lo

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