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How to Sous Vide a Whole Turkey

How to Sous Vide a Whole Turkey

In a 180-degree spin from our last piece on Turkey-less Thanksgiving, we’re moving our feathered friends back into the spotlight. This year our chefs and chief scientist, Bruno Goussault, decided to take the offensive on the infamously dry bird that poses a challenge to cooks across America every November.

Traditionally speaking, the basic preparation steps include buying the turkey, thawing it, brining it overnight, seasoning it, and then letting it disappear into the oven for another eight to twelve hours depending on your recipe (and how much patience you have).  Most endings to this story result in great tasting turkey legs and wings but piles of leftover dry turkey meat that could last for weeks if not for the few go-getters (optimists!) cranking out day-after-Thanksgiving recipes every year. Let’s reflect; that’s a good amount of work to only be left with the majority of the meat’s moisture lost. 

Where do we go from here?

More often than not, battling dry poultry syndrome involves breaking down whole birds into parts for easier handling during the cooking process.  But this ruins the presentation. A plate full of turkey pieces is not as photogenic as the iconic image of a whole turkey as the table centerpiece.  That leads us to a new favorite question.  Can you sous vide a whole turkey? The chefs answered with a resounding YES!

Here’s how you do it.



Whole Sous Vide Turkey 


8-10 lb Turkey

64 oz of Chicken Broth (approximately 2 boxes)

4 sprigs Rosemary

2 sprigs of Thyme

4 chicken breasts

Extra Large sous vide pouch



Olive Oil



Step 1 – Introduction

**This sous vide recipe will take about 16 hours so begin the instructions the day before you want to serve your finished entrée.**

Set the circulator at 85 C / 185 F. Begin with a fresh or completely thawed turkey. Rinse the turkey, drain all the juices, remove all insides, and set aside the neck piece. Also be sure to remove any thermometers that might have come with your turkey; it could puncture the pouch during cooking. Cover the turkey with plastic wrap and place in the fridge while you make the jus.



Step 2 – It’s All About The Jus

Slice the chicken breasts and turkey neck into smaller pieces. Sauté the chicken and turkey neck in a stock pot with a little bit of oil over medium heat. Once browned, add the 2 boxes of chicken stock and two whole sprigs of rosemary. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to low. Skim the foam from the surface of the liquid and let simmer for 1 hour to reduce and thicken the broth. After an hour has passed, strain the liquid and chill in the fridge.  The chicken and turkey pieces can be thrown away now unless you want to use them for another dish.



Step 3 – Bird Prep

Season the turkey with salt and pepper.  Cover both the leg and neck bones with foil so they don’t puncture the pouch. Place the turkey within the sous vide pouch, neck side down.  Pour the chilled jus into the empty cavity. Insert two sprigs of thyme into the cavity with the jus and the other two sprigs of rosemary on the top side of the turkey in the pouch. Vacuum seal on high and be sure to check for leakage. Repeat vacuum seal process with a fresh pouch if necessary.



Step 4 – Let’s Get Cooking!

Place the turkey in the water bath for 1 hour at 85 C / 185 F.

After one hour, lower the water bath temperature to 76 C / 168 F and cook the turkey for another 5 hours.  Once the 5 hours is complete, remove the pouch from the water bath and let rest at room temperature for 20 minutes. Next, submerge the pouch in cold water for another 30 minutes. The kitchen sink will work fine. Lastly, place the pouch in the fridge to chill overnight.


Step 5 – Finishing Touches

The next morning or afternoon, preheat your conventional oven to bake at 176 C / 350 F.  Remove the turkey from the pouch and move to a roasting pan with a raised grill. Set all liquid aside.  Roast the turkey within the oven for 1 hour 30 minutes until the skin is golden.

Use the set aside liquid from the pouch to make a savory gravy. Reheat in a sauce pan over medium heat, and simmer until desired thickness.



Final Thoughts

1. We used chicken and turkey pieces along with stock to reinforce the best parts in poultry flavors.

2. After cooking sous –vide we cooled the turkey down so that when the final roasting step is done, the outside of the turkey heats at the same rate as the inside. This leads to golden brown skin without drying out the meat.


So there you have it. A fully cooked turkey that’s not only delectably appetizing and juicy all the way through but the new reason to celebrate mealtime at your next holiday gathering! Happy Holidays!



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