The perfect turkey is the elusive Holy Grail of the holiday home cook. Nothing can put a damper on a thanksgiving or christmas meal more than a dried out flavorless bird. I have tried many techniques; brining, roasting, smoking, deep frying, grilling. Since I purchased my first immersion circulator I have looked for opportunities to best take advantage of sous vide or as I like to say, precise temperature cooking. For the perfect bird I turned to one of the chefs I admire and trust, Michael Voltagio and his technique on the Williams Sanoma web site. We start by butchering our turkey then brining overnight in a flavorful liquid to add moisture and additional flavor. Next we cook the invividual pieces sous vide until perfecly cooked; then we crisp our turkey briefly in the deep fryer to add color and an incredible skin. I garentee that if you prepare your holiday bird this way and bring it to your next family gathering it will disapear before any other turkeys there. Unfortunately there will hardly any leftovers so you may want to pick up another turkey when they are on sale.
1 12-14 pound turkey (get the freshest bird you can)
fresh sage and thyme
crushed garlic cloves (1 for each bag plus 3 for brine)
1 pint duck fat (1 - 2 Tbsp. for each bag)
salt and pepper for seasoning
1 gallon water
1 cup salt
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. black peppercorns
1 Tbsp cloves
3 crushed garlic cloves
6 sprigs fresh thyme
12 crushed fresh sage leaves
ice cubes to cool
1. Butcher turkey into 2 boneless breasts, drumsticks and boneless thighs. Prepare brine by heating 1 gallon water and disolving salt and sugar once hot. Add the peppercorns, cloves, garlic, thyme and sage and remove from heat. Add ice cubes to cool. Add the turkey pieces and brine overnight in the refrigerator.
2. Break apart the carcass of the turkey and the wings. Prepare a bed of mirepoix (onions, celery and carrots) and put the carcass over top. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with light olive oil. Roast in a 400 degree oven until nicley browned. Remove the turkey and vegetables from the roasting pan and heat over medium heat. Add or drain fat to the pan so you have about 2 to 3 tablespoons of fat let in the pan. Stir in an equal amount of flour to make a roux then deglaze with turkey or chicken stock. Add enough stock to make gravy and reduce to the consistency that you like. Strain through a sieve, season and reserve warm.
3. Preheat sous vide bath to 150 degrees F. Remove the turkey from the brine, rinse off spices and pat dry. Season each piece with salt and pepper, top with 1-2 tbsp. duck fat and top with fresh thyme and a couple of sage leaves. Seal each piece in a separate food safety sous vide bag. Add the thighs to the water bath and cook for 30 minutes. Add the remaining turkey to the water bath and cook for an additional 2 hours.
4. When the cooking has completed, remove the bags from the water bath and let cool until they are able to be handled. Cut open the bags and drain and dry the turkey pieces. Deep fry the pieces until browned, season and let rest for 10-15 minutes. Slice and serve with gravy and enjoy!