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What Would You Like to Sous Vide?
Simple Sous Vide Turkey Leg Recipe and How To Guide
Dark meat is handled very similarly to the white meat except for a slight increase in temperature and cooking time. My recommendation for a normal turkey leg is 148ºF (64.4°C) for 4 to 6 hours. If you are making shredded turkey then the more tender, but less moist result of 165ºF (73.9°C) for 8 to 12 hours should work very well.
A turkey leg includes both the turkey drumstick and the turkey thighs. Whether you are doing a whole leg or just sous vide thighs and drumsticks, the temperatures and cook times are often the same.
Why Sous Vide Turkey Legs
I love a juicy turkey leg that is tender and succulent, and sous vide is the best way to accomplish that!
Turkey sous vide can be done to lower temperatures than with traditional methods, while still being safe to eat thanks to the pasteurization effects when it is held at a consistent temperature in the water bath.
The sous vide method is also the easiest way to cook turkey, since it's hands off and there's no danger of overcooking it!
I like to cook the dark meat separately because not every part of the bird is best at the same temperature. I'd rather cook the legs at the temperature that is perfect for them.
Just like white meat, there is very little prep work needed once the turkey is broken down. You can cook the dark meat with or without the skin and bones without it affecting the flavor much. If you like really crispy skin, you can remove it now and follow my recipes on crispy skin.
I will usually leave the bone in, especially for the drumstick or whole leg because it is so much easier. But you can also debone them and cook the meat whole, or make a turkey roulade from it.
You can season the dark turkey meat with any flavors you like. A simple combination is some citrus peel with salt, pepper, and some woody herbs like sage, fresh thyme or rosemary.
You can also use any of your favorite spice rubs.
Some people like to use a sweet brine (combine sugar, salt and bay leaves) but I've found that it is juicy enough on it's own.
In addition, you can use dark meat for roulades or turn it into turkey confit, both of which have recipes later in the book.
I usually just seal the turkey legs in a single layer in a sous vide vacuum bag and use the vacuum sealer to suck out all the air. You can use separate bags if needed for each legs, or if you are doing larger quantities.
Ziploc freezer bags also work well with the water displacement method.
Dark Meat Temperatures and Textures
There are a few great options for sous vide times and temperatures combinations for dark meat.
My favorite temperate for sous vide cooking is 148°F (64.4°C) for around 6 to 12 hours. I think this results in perfectly cooked "traditional" tasting turkey. You can get away with cooking it for only 2 to 4 hours, depending on the thickness, but turkey can be cooked for that extended of a time because it's so much less tender than chicken meat and can benefit from additional tenderizing. I usually go for 6 to 12 hours to break it down just a tad.
Some other popular time and temperature combinations are ChefSteps, who recommends 150°F (65.6°C) for 12 hours followed by 131°F (55°C) for another 12 hours while the breasts cook. Some people suggest 141°F (60.6°C) for moister turkey meat. For a more traditional shreddable confit-like texture you can go as high as 170°F (76.6°C).
So there are many different temperatures you can use, but they all result in an amazing end product!
How to Cook Sous Vide Turkey Legs
Place the sealed bag of turkey legs in the sous vide bath and let it cook until pasteurized and tenderized. The sous vide turkey time is usually 4 to 6 hours.
How to Finish Sous Vide Turkey Legs
To finish, remove the legs from the vacuum sealer bag and dry it off really well.
I usually sear the legs in a hot pan with some high smoke point oil (i.e. not olive oil). Putting them on a baking sheet and heating them under the broiler in the oven can also work well
When searing, make sure you dry off the turkey very well with paper towels or a dish cloth.
Many people also like to smoke their turkey legs. To do this, fully chill the turkey, they bring it back up to temperature on your smoker. Just make sure the internal temperature doesn't go above what you sous vided it at.
I also love them with just some kosher salt, fresh black pepper, and a drizzle of maple syrup.
Best Simple Sous Vide Turkey Leg Master Recipe
In my opinion, this is the best simple sous vide turkey leg recipe. Dark meat is handled very similarly to the white meat except for a slight increase in temperature and cooking time. My recommendation for a normal turkey leg is 148ºF (64.4°C) for 4 to 6 hours. If you are making shredded turkey then the more tender, but less moist result of 165ºF (73.9°C) for 8 to 12 hours should work very well.
Prep Time: 36 Minutes
Cooktime: 4 to 6 Hours
Total Time: 4 to 6 Hours
Calories: 358 Calories
Tags: sous vide leg, sous vide turkey leg, turkey leg, turkey, sous vide, easy, simple
For the Turkey Leg
2 pounds turkey leg or turkey thigh
1 to 2 teaspoons salt
1/2 to 1 teaspoons spice rub or herbs (optional)
Preheat the Sous Vide Machine: Preheat the sous vide machine to 148ºF (64.4ºC) for my ideal texture or up to 150°F (65.6°C) for a more well done version.
Trim and Season Meat: Lightly salt the turkey leg then coat with the spices.
Seal the Turkey: Seal the leg in a sous vide bag, Ziploc-brand freezer bag, silicon bag, or other food- and heat-safe bag or zip top bag.
Cook the Leg: Add the bag to the preheated sous vide water bath. Let the leg cook until it is pasteurized and tenderized, about 4 to 6 hours for a typical turkey leg or turkey thigh.
Remove From Pouch: Once the turkey leg is ready, remove it from the sous vide machine and take it out of the bag. Pat it dry with paper towels or a dish cloth so you can get a good sear on it.
Sear the Meat: Heat a heavy pan with some oil in it over medium-high to high heat until it just starts to smoke. Add the turkey and sear quickly, about one minute per side. You want the meat to just brown but not overcook any more.
Plating: Cut the turkey leg into portions if desired. Add to a plate with any sides or sauces then serve.
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What is the Best Sous Vide Leg Temperatures and Times?
Sous vide dark meat turkey has a slight increase in temperature and cooking time. My recommendation for a normal turkey leg is 148ºF (64.4°C) for 4 to 6 hours. Or 165ºF (73.9°C) for shredded.
141ºF for 4 to 6 Hours (60.6ºC)
148ºF for 4 to 6 Hours (64.4ºC)
165ºF for 8 to 12 Hours (73.9ºC)
Do you have experience cooking leg? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
If you are looking for a more upscale presentation, then a turkey roulade is hard to beat. It's also very flavorful, because the middle of the meat is seasoned. A roulade is simple meat that has been seasoned, then rolled up and cooked. I first saw a version of this recipe by Kenji, on Serious Eats and it has become a favorite of mine.
In a recent Live Q & A session, Chris Asked Jason "Can I have a little bit of help about cooking a whole turkey?" Jason responded: There's a good Facebook thread in the group talking about different methods of cooking a whole turkey. I personally never cook sous vide whole turkeys. Normally, I break them apart because I prefer the white meat sous vided at 140°F (60°C) and the dark meat at 148°F (64.4°C). It's also a little bit easier to handle the individual parts than an entire turkey. The same goes for chicken as well.
When I was a kid, I looked forward to eating crispy turkey skin more than anything else at the table! If you are like that, and really, really need your super crispy skin even after sous vide, then you have a few options.
Often times around Thanksgiving there are great deals to be had on whole turkeys as well as turkey thighs and breasts. However, you can only eat so much roasted turkey with gravy so I like to try different sous vide recipes with them. Here I used some turkey thighs and combined it with the Jamaican jerk paste from our new sous vide book. I use sous vide turkey thighs since they are a great way to have moist, juicy turkey without having to keep an eye on them. I can also sous vide them while I'm working and they're ready when I get home and I just have to quickly sear them and make any sides. Hopefully this is one more sous vide recipe you can add to your mid-week cooking arsenal.
Now that it's close to Thanksgiving it's time to talk sous vide turkey. What better way to show off your sous vide machine than making a moist, perfectly cooked turkey for you friends and family. Here's a few articles and recipes to get you started on your way.
Sous Vide Leg Comments
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