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What Would You Like to Sous Vide?
Simple Sous Vide Whole Turkey Recipe and How To Guide
Cooking a whole turkey sous vide is not recommended, due to the different ideal temperatures between white and dark meat. However, if you do attempt it, be sure to break the turkey down enough to eliminate the air pocket in the middle, otherwise dangerous bacteria can grown. The temperature of 145°F (62.7°C) is probably a good starting point.
As I said above, I usually don't recommend sous viding a whole turkey because of the temperature differential and size of the bird, so I prefer an individual cooking process (even Serious Eats agrees). This is one of the easiest ways to have perfectly cooked, flavorful turkey without worrying about the different cook times.
But if you do want the presentation of an entire turkey or some other reason, you have a few options.
What Temperature to Sous Vide a Whole Turkey at?
Because white and dark meat uses different temperatures, what you pick really depends which part you want do NOT have cooked perfectly.
If I want the white meat cooked perfectly, then I'll cook the whole bird at the lower temperature of 140°F (60°C) and the dark meat will be a little less cooked than I prefer.
Or I can do 148°F (64.4°C) so the turkey legs and dark meat is my ideal temperature. Then the turkey breast is going to be dryer. But remember, it's still going to be better than a traditionally roasted turkey, but it'll be drier than I prefer at that internal temperature.
Or you can choose somewhere in between if you want them both slightly off. But, that's the temperature impacted trade-offs for sous viding a turkey whole.
How Long to Sous Vide a Whole Turkey?
For timing, it depends on how you prepared the turkey.
A lot of people recommend spatchcocking sous vide turkey so it can lay flat and is thinner in the sous vide machine. And that way you're only heating through 2 to 4 inches instead of an entire bird thickness.
You can then consult the sous vide chicken pasteurization charts, which work for turkey as well. For a 3-inch thick piece of meat, you sous vide it for about 4 to 6 hours to cook through and pasteurize.
Though you can let the turkey cook several hours longer without it becoming overcooked.
Beware the Air Cavity in a Whole Turkey
One of the biggest problems with sous viding a whole turkey that hasn't been broken down at all is the giant air cavity in the middle. That much air reduces the heat transfer which slows down the internal cooking.
You need to fill the cavity with something that can effectively circulate the heat.
Stuffing the turkey with stuffing is not the solution. This makes the turkey a solid 10 or 12 inches thick which the Sous Vide Time & Temperature Charts don't even go up to and would take a long, long time.
It's so long that the outside of the turkey could be overcooked and the in between portions could have been sitting in the danger zone for 10 or 12 hours fostering the growth of sous vide bacteria.
You can really run into some problems here and make yourself or other sick.
Turkey Stock Can Help Out
One solution is to put turkey stock in the bag with the sous vide turkey, if you have a big enough vacuum sealer.
Doug Piper was in our Thanksgiving Video course and he did a version of it where he put the turkey in a sous vide bag then put turkey stock in the bag and basically poached it in the sous vide machine.
This method creates a good environment for heat transfer all through the turkey. While the water bath heats up the broth, move the turkey around a little bit so the warmer broth swirls further into the cavity sooner.
You'll now be cooking it from the inside a little faster as well.
Mold the Bag to the Whole Turkey Cavity
Another possibility was posted by Rick Christopherson.
Rick puts the turkey, cavity first, into a large bag. He then uses his fist to push the bottom of the bag into the bird's cavity so the water in the bath can circulate around inside of it. For it to work most effectively, be sure the water fills the cavity up when you place the turkey into the bath.
Those are 2 options you can use when sous viding a whole turkey. I'm sure there are other creative ways to accomplish the internal heat transfer, but you have to do something because you can't just leave the air in there.
Not only will your turkey float in the sous vide water bath, but it won't heat all the way through and cook. It's seems like a huge pain to do that for a turkey dinner but I know some people like the presentation.
How to Sear an Entire Turkey
The other potential issue you run into is trying to sear an entire bird. You can put in it a roasting pan and use the broiler on the oven, or put it on a really hot grill, but it can be tricky.
Make sure you dry it off really well first, usually using paper towels or dish cloths.
How I Prefer to Sous Vide a Turkey
If I want to present an upscale turkey meal, I keep the dark meat whole. You can leave the skin on and quickly roast it after the sous vide to give it some nice coloring and crispy skin.
So even if your turkey is cut into some pieces, you can still make it look really fancy and upscale. I still feel like I'm doing my best to make everyone at the table happy without having to put in too much energy into doing a turkey whole!
Best Simple Sous Vide Whole Turkey Spatchcocked Master Recipe
I rarely sous vide a whole turkey without spatchcocking it due to the safety concerns. So here is my go-to version if I want to keep the whole bird together. It can be used as a simple sous vide whole turkey recipe to pair with all your favorite Thanksgiving or family sides.
Tags: sous vide whole, sous vide turkey whole, turkey whole, turkey, sous vide, easy, simple
For the Whole Turkey
1 whole turkey
1 to 4 tablespoons salt
1 to 4 tablespoons spice rub or herbs (optional)
Preheating: Preheat the sous vide machine to 145°F (62.8ºC) for my ideal texture or up to 150°F (65.6°C) for a more well done version.
Spatchcock the Turkey: Trim off any fat and spatchcock the whole turkey so it can lay flat. Salt the whole turkey and add any seasoning rub or herbs you prefer.
Seal in Sous Vide Bag: Seal the turkey in a sous vide bag, Ziploc-brand freezer bag, silicon bag, or other food- and heat-safe bag or zip top bag.
Cook the whole turkey: Place the sous vide bag in the water bath and cook until pasteurized, which is usually 4 to 6 hours depending on the thickness.
Dry the whole turkey: Once fully cooked, take the sous vide bag out of the water bath and remove the spatchcocked turkey from the bag. Pat it dry with a paper towel or dish cloth.
To Sear the Food: Sear the whole for 1 to 2 minutes per side over high heat. It should just start to brown but the core temperature shouldn't rise. I often use a broiler or grill on high heat to more evenly brown it Remove it from the heat.
Time to Plate: Place the whole turkey onto a plate with any salads or sides then serve.
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What is the Best Sous Vide Whole Temperatures and Times?
Cooking a whole turkey sous vide is not recommended, due to the different ideal temperatures between white and dark meat. However, if you do attempt it, be sure to break the turkey down enough to eliminate the air pocket.
If you are like my family, and flavorful gravy is a highlight of the meal, you'll need to make or buy turkey stock. I always recommend making your own and there are many ways to make a stock, depending on what you are planning on using it for, but at its most basic, it's just water, meat, bones, vegetables, herbs and spices simmered for a long time. If you have a pressure cooker I highly recommend using it, it produces a richer, deeper stock than simmering it...plus you don't have to tend the stove for an hour or two!
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.
This is my go-to gravy during Thanksgiving. It is very fast to bring together and it is rich, herby and full of flavors that complement almost every side we have at the table. If you prefer a more traditional gravy you can omit the herbs, and it'll still be very flavorful. Feel free to modify the amount of flour you use to make it thicker or thinner, depending on your preferences.
This method of making crispy skin is a little more involved but the end result will be some of the best skin you've ever tasted. The skin is baked in the oven until all the fat is rendered and it crisps up. You can pull the skin out at different points, ranging from crispy but soft and chewy, up to an almost a glass-like texture.
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.
Until a year or two ago I had never heard of charmoula, and now I eat it all the time. It's a herb-based condiment that packs a huge punch and comes together really quickly. I used it to top a sous vide turkey breast and rounded out the meal with a sauteed vegetable medley.
I love a rich, flavorful curry served over rice, but to lighten it up I'll often use a cauliflower pilaf instead of white rice. The pilaf helps soak up the curry while cooking the turkey first with sous vide ensures that it comes out perfect every time. This sous vide turkey curry recipe is the perfect meal for a healthy but hearty dinner!
I really enjoy turkey for a light dinner and it goes well with this avocado and arugula salad from Beginning Sous Vide. Here I add some spice to the turkey in the form of chipotle powder. It's a great way to kick up the heat and flavor without overpowering the turkey.
If you are looking for super-moist, tender turkey breast then it's really hard to beat sous vide turkey. Love that crisp skin? You can remove it from the breast and crisp it up in the oven around serving time. My favorite sous vide turkey breast cooking time is 4 to 8 hours at 140°F (60°C). I think this produces the best combination of "moist but cooked"! This recipe pairs the sous vide turkey breast with the fresh taste of oven roasted apples.
If you are looking for super-moist, tender turkey breast then it's really hard to beat my sous vide turkey recipe. There's a definite art to properly roasting an entire turkey and getting every part to turn out perfectly cooked, and it's something that's always hit or miss for me. Once I switched to sous vide turkey breast, I make awesome turkey every time.
The next type of food I wanted to cover in the Exploring Sous Vide course is chicken, turkey, and other poultry. I think sous vide transforms chicken and turkey breasts more than just about any other type of meat. They turn out so much more moist and tender than their traditional counterparts, in large part because you can cook them at a lower temperature.
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.
Everyone loves turkey at the holidays but few seem to make it during the year. This is a real shame because it is a flavorful, healthy meat, and when cooked with sous vide turkey is incredibly tender. I saw some nice turkey breasts at the store the other day and decided to cook them sous vide, sear them up, and serve them with a cucumber and cherry tomato salad fresh from our garden. Here's the sous vide recipe so you can make it yourself.
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 Whole Comments
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