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Kent Wang

Sous vide turkey

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The giant sous vide thread has some discussion of turkey, where most people say they do a ballotine. I thought it'd be good to break this out into a separate topic.

PolyScience put out a video on the subject. They separate the dark meat and from the white meat. Then sous vide white meat at 160F for 4 hours and the dark meat at the same temperature for 18 hours. Then put in it a 350F oven for 30 minutes to finish.

This seems like a pretty good procedure to me. Except, what happens to the rest on the meat on the carcass? The video seems to indicate that only the breasts are used. I suppose you could roast the carcass in the oven or maybe make a soup out of it.


Edited by Kent Wang (log)

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I make stock out of the bones and scraps for the sauce.

Personally, I think their time and temp is terrible. 160F comes out to around 71C. I find that turkey breast is best at around 60.5C (aka 140F). 71C turkey breast seems overcooked to me by quite a lot. As for time, since turkey breast is a tender meat, there is no reason to cook it any longer than the minimum time required to bring it up to temperature. Douglas Baldwin's site has all the relevant thickness/temperature/time charts in one easy-to-find location.

Also, if you're going to go to all the trouble of separating the breast meat and leg meat, why treat them the same and cook them at the same time/temperature? That seems crazy to me. Treat them differently! Turkey leg meat benefits from higher cooking temperatures and longer cooking times than breast meat. The simple way to do this would be to make "turkey confit" out of it. To do this, salt/herb it overnight, then rinse it off, bag it with a small amount of fat, and cook it at 80C for 80-10 hours. Then ice it down and chuck it in the refrigerator for a while. After that, you can unbag it and crisp it up of shred it out or whatever you want to do.

This Thanksgiving, I'm going to cut up all the leg meat into relatively uniform chunks (removing all the extra sinew, etc.), mix it with some herbs and a few nuts, then bind it back together into a rectangular brick with Activa. I'll cook this at around 70C for many hours and then slice it into cubes for service (possibly browning it in butter). If I can, I'll bind the turkey skin on to the outside of the brick. I'll serve that with a slender breast meat roulade I've filled with a black truffle-and-turkey mousse and cooked to 61C.

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I make stock out of the bones and scraps for the sauce.

Personally, I think their time and temp is terrible. 160F comes out to around 71C. I find that turkey breast is best at around 60.5C (aka 140F). 71C turkey breast seems overcooked to me by quite a lot. As for time, since turkey breast is a tender meat, there is no reason to cook it any longer than the minimum time required to bring it up to temperature. Douglas Baldwin's site has all the relevant thickness/temperature/time charts in one easy-to-find location.

Also, if you're going to go to all the trouble of separating the breast meat and leg meat, why treat them the same and cook them at the same time/temperature? That seems crazy to me. Treat them differently! Turkey leg meat benefits from higher cooking temperatures and longer cooking times than breast meat. The simple way to do this would be to make "turkey confit" out of it. To do this, salt/herb it overnight, then rinse it off, bag it with a small amount of fat, and cook it at 80C for 80-10 hours. Then ice it down and chuck it in the refrigerator for a while. After that, you can unbag it and crisp it up of shred it out or whatever you want to do.

This Thanksgiving, I'm going to cut up all the leg meat into relatively uniform chunks (removing all the extra sinew, etc.), mix it with some herbs and a few nuts, then bind it back together into a rectangular brick with Activa. I'll cook this at around 70C for many hours and then slice it into cubes for service (possibly browning it in butter). If I can, I'll bind the turkey skin on to the outside of the brick. I'll serve that with a slender breast meat roulade I've filled with a black truffle-and-turkey mousse and cooked to 61C.

Can we expand this topic a little? How is everybody going to use sous vide to help them with the whole meal this Thanksgiving? Vegetable dishes, cooking the butternut squash for soup, turkey and stuffing ballotines or roulades (thanks Slkinsey), you name it and your technique. Thanks in advance.

Bob

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I use SV and related techniques/technologies extensively for this kind of dinner. It frees the stove for other uses, and makes things more or less idiot-proof.

I'm going to do something like this:

Salad starter: Endive with flash-infused apple matchsticks, caramelized pecans and Stilton moussse. This just uses the vacuum machine to infuse the apple.

Soup: Cauliflower cream puree with arugula pudding and pickled shallots. I cooked the cauliflower and cream together SV at 85C until tender, then cooled it down to handling temperature, pureed it in the VitaPrep, chilled it and sealed it back in the bag. Cooking it this way ensures that the puree is snowy white. I'll chuck the bag in the circulator to keep it warm for service on Thursday. The pickled shallots are bagged with a mild sweet/sour solution and cooked SV until just tender, then chilled and reserved for service.

White meat course: Turkey breast roulade (filled with black truffle/turkey mousse), broccoli puree, celery root cream, potato coins. The roulade is cooked SV a la minute to 60.5C. The celery root cream is cooked SV similarly to the way the cauliflower puree is cooked so that it stays nicely white. The potato coins are cooked through SV at 83C with rendered turkey fat and seasonings, then chilled and crisped up for service. Once I make the celery root cream, I can put it into a squirt bottle, cap it and put it in the circulator to stay warm for service.

Dark meat course: Cubes of recomposed dark meat "terrine" with chestnuts, bacon-wrapped cornbread dressing, sauteed brussels sprouts, reduction sauce. As described above, the leg meat will have all the tendons removed, then will be chunked up, dusted with Activa, mixed with the chestnuts, etc., and packed into a square form lined with turkey skin at top and bottom. This will be cooked for several hours at around 70C, then chilled. For service, I'll cut it into equal sized cubes with skin on one side. The skin will be crisped in clarified butter a la minute for service (which will warm them through). For the dressing, I'll make a sheet of overlapping slices of extra-thin Schaller und Weber double-smoked bacon, and I'll wrap that around some cornbread dressing like I'm making a huge sushi roll. That will get wrapped tightly in cling film, bagged and kept warm in the circulator for several hours to tenderize the bacon. I'll crisp the bacon for service with a blowtorch or run it under the broiler. The trick is to use plenty of egg and make a moist dressing so that it stays together when you slice the roll.

So, that's probably a fair amount of reliance on SV technology. I won't be using my oven for anything but keeping plates warm.

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This Thanksgiving, I'm going to cut up all the leg meat into relatively uniform chunks (removing all the extra sinew, etc.), mix it with some herbs and a few nuts, then bind it back together into a rectangular brick with Activa. I'll cook this at around 70C for many hours and then slice it into cubes for service (possibly browning it in butter). If I can, I'll bind the turkey skin on to the outside of the brick. I'll serve that with a slender breast meat roulade I've filled with a black truffle-and-turkey mousse and cooked to 61C.

That sounds really interesting - do you have experience binding skin to meat? I've done it with duck breast where I've removed the skin, shaved off most of the fat and then glued it back on... Fat and skin don't have much available proteins to bind... so the rep at Ajinomoto recommended using the GS in a slurry rather than the RM for that application... hope it goes well...

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I've done something similar before, yea. The trick with turkey skin is to really scrape out the underside so you remove all the fat, etc. Or, alternatively, I may decide to debone the legs intact and then cut off most of the meat but leave behind a thin outer layer connected to the skin.

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Baldwin recommends for confit to do "176°F (80°C) water bath for 8 to 12 hours". Why such a high temperature for confit? Couldn't it be done at the minimum temperature?

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You won't get the traditional confit texture at a lower temperature. Remember that traditional confit is simmered in fat. This isn't to say that you can't get something tasty at a lower temperature, but it won't be like confit. Also, part of what confiting does is actually render fat out of the meat. A confit-ed duck leg that's had the external fat scraped away and been crisped in a pan actually has less fat than if you were to simply fry up the same duck leg.

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Sounds like a lot of great ideas. It's the skin that raises questions for me. The thing that's coming to mind is Heston Blumenthal's Perfection episode where he deals with Pekin Duck. He separates the duck skin, ties it to a cooling rack in a way that would make Dr. Lechter proud, dries it then "bastes" it with hot oil. It looks like a spectacular, crispy end result.

Essentially, I'm wondering if finishing the skin separate from the meat itself, and then simply placing the skin on top of the meat at plating might be better than trying to fuse the skin to the meat and trying to crisp it together.

I won't be SVing anything for the main meal this year, but I'm very tempted to buy some turkey "parts" to experiment on for future meals.

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I just made Thanksgiving dinner last night for my friends. Because I only had one waterbath and a few things to put into it I had to decide on a compromise temperature.

Turkey wings and legs were brined in a 5% solution overnight, then bagged with some duck fat for 135-141F (can't remember) for 8 hours, chilled in the frige for 3 hours, then roasted around 450F for 30 minutes until the skin browned. This turned out great, but did not have the confit texture as Sam explains. Nevertheless, it was far more tender and juicy than any turkey I've ever had and pulled apart easily. The chilling before roasting helped to prevent it from overcooking while in the oven.

I made a ballotine with the breasts and a mousse made out of the white meat I picked out of the carcass and some celeriac. Instead of twine, I used cellophane to keep it rolled up and then bagged. It was about 70 mm thick and I was in a bit of rush so I had to push the temperature up to 150F for 3:30. Unfortunately the breast came out a bit dry and the mousse just didn't taste that great, a bit like turkey baloney. Next year I'll try 140F and a different kind of filling.

The carcass I roasted and picked off as much of the meat as possible to put into the mousse, then I made a stock out of the remainder. I ended up making a butternut squash soup but forgot to put the stock in -- oops. But because butternut is so flavorful I think the stock would have been overwhelmed. Some of the stock did go into the gravy. I think I'll make a chicken noodle soup with the rest of it.

I also did a pulled pork using pork shoulder for 135F for 48 hours. That was great.

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HELP! Need some quick help from my fellow forumites!

The background: I am in the middle of sous-vide Turkey Leg confit. I am at 11 hours with the legs having been browned first, then put in a food-saver bag with 8 tbl duck fat per leg at 180F.

The problem is, the legs are still tough!

The question is: do I wait for tenderness, or have I missed the point of tenderness and just give up now?

Thanks!

Mike

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sous vide turkey thighs/legs

the legs were seasoned with a rub of kosher salt/thyme/fresh bay leaf/black pepper/garlic for 6 hours in a ziplock bag (modified from the keller recipe for duck leg confit), then sealed in a bag with a stick of butter and several large scoops of rendered turkey fat, and a "herb sachet" made up of 6 sprigs thyme, 2 crushed garlic cloves, 10 peppercorns, a bay leaf all tied in cheesecloth. 180 degrees for 12 hours

utterly fabulous...

you will never eat the breast meat again after you've had the sous-vide "confit" turkey legs/thighs.

the rub is 6-10 sprigs of thyme, 2 bay leafs, 10-20 pepper corns, 3-4 crushed garlic cloves and 1/4-1/2 cup of salt.

the turkey fat is rendered from the skin of the turkey (peel it all off), and the fat chunks removed while butchering the bird. grind the skin up and place it in a baggie in simmering water for 1-2 hours, or sous vide it at 190 degrees for 1-2 hours. the solids are strained off, and the fat will solify over a small amount of liquid (after some time in the fridge).

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Oh man! That (dark meat "confit") sounds fantastic. I'm surprised, though, about the cooking temp: 180F/82C. Really?

Also, I have no familiarity with rendered turkey fat, so I don't know if it's particularly distinct. Would chicken fat work well as a substitute, or is the turkey fat imparting a particular flavor?

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Thomas keller has a technique for processing/rendering fat that works with anything.

described for duck fat (if pork fat is King of all fats, then duck fat is the Queen), he runs the skin/scraps/fat through a meat grinder to bust up all the tissues, then vacumn bags it and sous vide's it at 189 degrees for 1.5-2 hours.

that technique works well, and extracts every last scrap of fat.

a quick and dirty technique while gets you most of the fat, but with out the fuss, involves chopping up the odd bits and skin with a knife (as fine a dice as you have the energy/time to perform), then sticking it in a ziploc heavy duty freezer bag (excluding as much air as possible), and tossing it in barely simmering water with a plate ontop of the bag to keep it submerged. 2 hours later, you've got fat!

Now the MOST fabulous confit turkey legs i've ever made, i used all duck fat. this time, i was at my dad's house, and i didn't bring any duck fat, so i was planning on simple using butter, but them the turkey prep left me with lots of skin/fat/bits, so i decided to render the fat with the baggie tehcnique, which worked well enough. the turkey fat definitely had a "turkey" aroma to it, so i thought that would enhance the confit, and use this part of the bird as well (i hate to waste anything).

Any fat will work, just depends on the falvor your trying to develop. Chicken fat, turkey fat, duck fat, butter..i would expect each work, imparting a slightly different taste to t he end product.

The time and temperature are correct, and work great. the meat literally fell off the bones when the cooking was completed.

the render fat (and turkey stock made from the bones), where also used in the stuffing, and in the fricasse of breast meat.


Edited by Heartsurgeon (log)

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White meat course: Turkey breast roulade (filled with black truffle/turkey mousse), broccoli puree, celery root cream, potato coins. The roulade is cooked SV a la minute to 60.5C. The celery root cream is cooked SV similarly to the way the cauliflower puree is cooked so that it stays nicely white. The potato coins are cooked through SV at 83C with rendered turkey fat and seasonings, then chilled and crisped up for service. Once I make the celery root cream, I can put it into a squirt bottle, cap it and put it in the circulator to stay warm for service.

Hi slkinsey,

Could you explain your roulade preparation for me? Did you just use a food processor to whip up some dark meat with truffle? If it was a mousse then I am guessing you had eggs, cream, and spices. When it came out of the SV, what was the texture like? Did you sear the roulade or just slice and serve?

Thanks!

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I've done this a few times before. Wasn't quite to my liking this year (too much mousse relative to the amount of turkey) but that was more of an architectural fault than a conceptial one.

All I do to make the mousse is take the turkey breast scraps and toss them in the food processor with salt and pepper, start the motor, and then I add cream and an egg or two until I get the texture I want. After that, I fold in things such as minced herbs, spices, truffles, nuts, mushroom duxelles or whatever else I might want in the mousse.

That gets spread onto a piece of flattened skinless turkey breast, which is then rolled into a tube with a sheet of plastic film (using the plastic to make a tight roll, just like the mat is used in making a sushi roll), then each end of the plastic is twisted tight. That roll goes into a vacuum bag.

After that, it's simply a matter of cooking it to temperature in the water bath. I don't bother browning this, because I don't find that the appearance of unbrowned turkey or chicken breast meat is particularly off-putting as it can be with other meats. I suppose it wouldn't be too terribly difficult to lightly brown the outside of the roll in a large pan of brown butter. In other years, I have wrapped the exterior of the turkey roll with chard leaves or savoy cabbage leaves, which makes a nice presentation.

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Thanks for the recipe. I was thinking that after SVing the roulade I could wrap it in prosciutto or even turkey skin and fry it really quickly to crisp it and to impart another flavor and texture element.

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Wrapping it in turkey skin is, I have found, quite difficult. At the least, you'd need some transglutaminase to get it to stick. And even then, you have to be very careful that it stays stuck (I glued some turkey skin to a transglutaminase-bound leg meat "terrine" and browned it with a blowtorch) and doesn't instead stick to the pan.

I'd also recommend against wrapping it in things such prosciutto, bacon, etc. There are, of course, similar difficulties in keeping the cured pork stuck to the turkey. But, more to the point, turkey breast meat is rather mildly flavored. Wrap the breast in prosciutto or bacon, and you're going to end up with meat that tastes more of prosciutto or bacon than it does of turkey. One of the great things about cooking poultry breast to temperature sous vide is that you can really experience the mild flavors of the breast meat. The othe rdifficulty with wrapping low-temperature soud vide breast meat in something that has to be crisped, is that you run the meaningful risk of overshooting the target temperature by the time you get the wrapping sufficiently crisped. It's possible to do (e.g., baste frying" the outside by pouring hot oil over it), but it's a lot of trouble and it's not clear that the results are worth it.

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Opening this topic again. I would like to do the turkey leg confit but my turkey legs are too big for my SV setup. I see you're breaking them down and building a brick but that is too advanced for me and I don't have the ingredients anyway. So what would a middle-ground option be?

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Last weekend, Costco was selling Butterball boneless breast of turkey which I purchased. I followed the recommended method from Mr. Preston at PolyScience using the herbs and duck fat. I forgot to add the apple cider to my sous vide bag which I will try next time.

I cooked the breast at 160F for four hours as recommended and then finished it in an oven at 350F for a half hour. It came out tender, wonderfully moist and flavorful. Next time, I might wrap the breast in a butter soaked cheesecloth when finishing in the oven so as to keep the out portion moist as well.

This is very much worth trying by all.

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Opening this topic again. I would like to do the turkey leg confit but my turkey legs are too big for my SV setup. I see you're breaking them down and building a brick but that is too advanced for me and I don't have the ingredients anyway. So what would a middle-ground option be?

You can always cut the raw meat off the leg and put the chunks in a bag in your SV setup... Usually the turkey confit is pulled from the bone anway once it's done (like pulled pork) - so if it won't fit, you might as well debone it first.

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Opening this topic again. I would like to do the turkey leg confit but my turkey legs are too big for my SV setup. I see you're breaking them down and building a brick but that is too advanced for me and I don't have the ingredients anyway. So what would a middle-ground option be?

You can always cut the raw meat off the leg and put the chunks in a bag in your SV setup... Usually the turkey confit is pulled from the bone anway once it's done (like pulled pork) - so if it won't fit, you might as well debone it first.

Then should i leave the skin in one piece to SV (and help render some fat) and brown that at the end?

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I saw this video by Grant Achatz where he broke down the turkey and cooked them sous vide in a big stock pot on the stove. There are no instructions on how to do it but you can see what looks like a standard cooking thermometer hanging out of the pot to monitor the temp, I thought that was a great hack. I have an extra turkey in the freezer, I'm going to try that method this weekend.

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My friends and I are having an "orphan" thanksgiving, and I volunteered to do the turkey (my pleasure to do so). The original plan was for about 15 people, but the invite list soon ballooned to about 23. I knew that even if I roasted the big bird, I'd still have to make an extra turkey breast, and I decided I'd sous vide it.

After referring to the times and temp Dave Arnold at Cooking Issues found worked best for him, I sous vide'd a turkey breast Saturday night as a test to make sure it would come out like I wanted it to. I ended up doing 2.5 hours (pasteurization time) at 64c, and finished by throwing it in a 500 oven for about 20 minutes. Results were great, meat was delicious and juicy, skin was crisp (although that didn't last for long, but I've come to expect that).

It came out so well I've decided I'm going to sous vide all of it...I'm going to bag the breasts and cook at 64c, bag the legs and cook them at 65c after the breasts are done (or perhaps confit them).

Here's my dilemma...transporting to the party and re-heating/roasting

As far as I can tell I have two options, with pros and cons...can anyone think of a better solutions?

Solution #1: roast at my house, bring to the party completely cooked.

PROS: Less work to do at the party, I know my oven and it's roasting habits well

CONS: Skin will not be crisp when served, risk overcooking when reheating in oven at party

Solution #2 (what I think I'm going to do): bring turkey in sous vide bags in cooler to maintain temp, roast at party

PROS: Skin will be crisper? (but will still have to sit and rest while other food is warmed in oven post-roast)

CONS: Turkey will sit tented in foil while other side dishes brought are warmed in the oven

Other solutions I've thought of have been searing the turkey on the stovetop, but I imagine the burners will be occupied with things like mashed potatoes and the gravy I'm also bringing.

Does anyone have any thoughts or modifications that would streamline this a little more?

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      Modernist Bread has an excellent section on how bread bakes, including a diagram of the internal heat pipes that develop, summarized here. (click for a good photo!)
       
      Sous-vide solves the overcooking side of the gradient problem, but it's still limited by total heat diffusion time-- doubling the size of a cut quadruples the time needed for the center to reach temperature. Heat pipe pins should make larger cuts practical, or normal cuts cook faster. Here's a graph from "The heat pipe and its potential for enhancing the cooking and cooling of meat joints", showing average temperatures over time for 1kg joints of meat convection baked at 190C/375F for 110 minutes (foil removed for the last 30 minutes):

       
      Thermal pins were sold commercially from 1956 to about 1990. They're listed occasionally for about $20 on ebay. They even made potato baking racks with heat pipes-- though now you can easily par-cook a potato in the microwave and finish it in the oven.
       
      I don't know why production of thermal pins stopped, or what fundamental problems limited their usage. It seems like pans and commercial griddles would be improved by adding heat pipes to spread heat throughout and avoid hot or cold spots. Perhaps roasts fell out of favor as the culture of entertaining shifted away from monolithic centerpieces to smaller, more precisely cooked portions.
    • By philie
      Hey there, i hope to find some help in the wise hands of yours. after some research i am still having some problems concerning glazing:
       
      For a party i would like to make some cubes and rounded savoury cakes and foams out of silicone forms that have a ready bottom and a colour glazing. 
      Somehow i just do not manage to find a steady glazing ( one that does not run ) and is for texture reasons preferably hard or crisp that does not include sugar or syrup.
       
      can you help me or lead my way in a certain direction?
       
      thanks very much!
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