How to Sous Vide a Turkey for Thanksgiving or the Holidays

Posted by on Oct 24, 2012

Even though I am away from Vancouver, I made it a point to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving this year.  For one, the thought of seeing all the celebratory food that my friends were enjoying back home would have been too much to bear.  Secondly, Thanksgiving is one of my favourite holidays and I wanted to share it with my friends and neighbours.  Lastly, my husband had to go out of town and I didn’t want to spend it alone.

So a few weeks before, I invited a boatload of folks over for a Canadian Thanksgiving potluck.  Most of the guests were not even aware that Canadian Thanksgiving existed.  They were still good sports and agreed to bring a side dish or dessert.  I’m so blessed with the amazing friends that I’ve made in Austin so far.

As the hostess, my responsibility was to cook the perfect turkey.  My neighbour Jeff and I decided to prepare two turkeys differently.  He would smoke one and I would sous vide the other.

How to Sous Vide a Turkey for Thanksgiving by Melody Fury | Food, Drink, Restaurant Photographer and Writer in Austin TX and Vancouver BC

How to Sous Vide a Turkey for Thanksgiving

Cooking a turkey in the sous vide machine was a no-brainer.  For one, this method keeps the turkey moist and succulent without needing to brine it beforehand.  It’s easy to infuse flavour into the meat as well.  It’s compact, saves oven space, and keeps warm until the guests arrive without overcooking.  Since we debone it first, carving it at the table is also a breeze.  I’ll definitely be using this method for future turkeys.

So on the night before Thanksgiving, @TheRealMrFury helped me debone the turkey.  (We saved the carcass for making stock after.)  We seasoned the meat and placed the dark meat and the breasts in separate bags.  I slipped in lemon peel, fresh rosemary and thyme, crushed garlic, and a swig of olive oil.  We vaccummed sealed them, put them in the fridge, and went out for dinner.  It was as simple as that.

How to Sous Vide a Turkey for Thanksgiving by Melody Fury | Food, Drink, Restaurant Photographer and Writer in Austin TX and Vancouver BC

Turkey all sealed and ready for the sous vide machine

On Thanksgiving morning, I dropped the turkey into the sous vide machine.  Then, we went to Haddington’s for brunch before I drove the Mr. to the airport.  As you can see from what I ordered, Thanksgiving started early for me.  I did not hold back.

Fried chicken eggs benedict at Haddingtons by Melody Fury | Food, Drink, Restaurant Photographer and Writer in Austin TX and Vancouver BC

Fried chicken and prosciutto eggs benedict at Haddingtons

After I dropped Mr. off, I headed to the Texas Craft Brewers Festival.  I met up with some friends and tried a range of excellent local beers.  I ducked out once I used up my tickets (and before I got drunk) so I could prepare for the potluck.

Texas Craft Brewers Festival by Melody Fury | Food, Drink, Restaurant Photographer and Writer in Austin TX and Vancouver BC

Texas Craft Brewers Festival

When the guests arrived, I took the turkey out of the sous vide machine and cut the bags open.  I just adore the meaty perfume that the steamy bags release.  The gentlemen took turn blow torching the skin to crisp it up.  Jeff’s smoked turkey arrived and it was spectacular too.

The result was a juicy, succulent, and aromatic turkey.  As expected, there were no surprises.  It was cooked to the perfect temperature and not a degree over.

Sous Vide Turkey for Thanksgiving by Melody Fury | Food, Drink, Restaurant Photographer and Writer in Austin TX and Vancouver BC

Finishing up the Thanksgiving turkey.  Photo by my neighbour, Crail.

Apart from the turkey, I made a baked spaghetti squash with maple syrup and precious bacon fat.  I also grilled up some Mexican street corn and slathered them with homemade mayonnaise, cotija cheese, and lime.  That’s my favourite way to eat corn. mmm!

I was deeply touched by what my friends bought.  They went all out!  The spread included: guava and meat arepas, a crockpot of stuffing, crisp roasted potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes with a pecan crumble, a whole duck wrapped in bacon, a truffled quinoa salad, adorable hand pies, and a rich pumpkin bourbon cheese cake.  I hope I didn’t forget anyone’s dish…

Sous Vide Turkey for Thanksgiving by Melody Fury | Food, Drink, Restaurant Photographer and Writer in Austin TX and Vancouver BC

Sous Vide Turkey for Thanksgiving

In short, it was a fantastic night of celebration that melted away my home sickness.  Thank you, friends!

On Thanksgiving Monday, the Mr. was still away but the gluttony continued.  My good friend Yeeland joined me for a meat filled happy hour to wrap up the long weekend.  I was officially meat-ed out.

Happy hour at Salty Sow in Austin by Melody Fury | Food, Drink, Restaurant Photographer and Writer in Austin TX and Vancouver BC

Happy hour at Salty Sow in Austin

So have I convinced you to break convention and to sous vide your next Thanksgiving Turkey?  Check out Douglas Baldwin’s informative guide to sous viding to determine your temperature setting and cooking duration.  I rely on his handy temperature guides to achieve the perfect doneness for all types of food.  Give it shot and let me know if it works for you or if you still prefer the traditional whole turkey.

Sous Vide Turkey for Thanksgiving by Melody Fury | Food, Drink, Restaurant Photographer and Writer in Austin TX and Vancouver BC

Tada!

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  • kandice

    Sounds and looks delicious!

  • SousVide Supreme

    Fabulous!