Sous Vide Turkey and Sage Gravy
Serves 8 to 12
The immersion circulator controls the water temperature, which is typically the “done” temperature of the food being cooked. During the cooking process, the ingredients are slowly heated to the water temperature, achieving doneness. However, temperature is not the only element that controls food safety. Food safety is a function of both temperature and time. While a “done” turkey registers at 165 degrees F, the 145 degrees F temperature of the water bath along with the 10-hour cook time in this recipe achieves a safe-to-eat turkey. Also, this turkey is not salty. There is a hint of salt to the bird allowing for the accoutrements of the Thanksgiving table, from the gravy to the dressing, to shine. This recipe views the turkey more as a vessel for sides. If a saltier turkey is desired, slightly increase the amount of salt used.
2 sealable gallon plastic bags
4 tsp peppercorns, divided
10 cloves of garlic, crushed and peels removed, divided
3 tsp kosher salt, divided
2 tsp sugar, divided
2 turkey legs
2 bone-in thighs
2 bone-in half breasts
4 rosemary sprigs, divided
4 sage sprigs, divided
4 bay leaves, torn in half, divided
13 to 15 hours before serving time, and evenly divide the peppercorns, garlic and herbs into the two plastic bags. These two bags are for the different cuts of turkey. One bag is for the breasts (white meat) and the second bag is for the legs and thighs (dark meat). Set both bags aside.
Place 1 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of sugar into a small bowl. Stir to combine. Repeat this step creating two separate salt mixture bowls. Using the salt mixture from one of the bowls, thoroughly coat the breasts (including under the skin). Place the breasts into one of the gallon plastic bags. Repeat this step with the second bowl of salt mixture and the legs and thighs. It is important to separate the white and dark meat, as they require different cook times. Place the bags into the fridge and let dry brine for at least 3 hours.
20 minutes before cook time, prepare your immersion circulator and water container at 145 degrees F for sous vide cooking. When adding water to the container, be sure to leave some room as the water level will rise once the turkey is added.
Once the water is heated (about 20 minutes), slowly lower the bag into the water, allowing the water to press the air out of the bag. With the bag mostly submerged and the air evacuated seal the bag. The bag should appear as if it has been vacuum sealed, with the plastic pressing tightly against the exterior of the turkey.
Cook the dark meat (legs and thighs) sous vide for 12 hours. Make sure the turkey is completely submerged in the water. Two hours later, place the second bag containing the white meat (breasts) into the bath and cook for 10 hours. Be sure to follow the instructions above for sealing the bag.
When cooking sous vide, water levels will decrease if the pot is not covered. When necessary add water so to keep the bags submerged.
30 minutes before serving prepare the appliance being used to brown and crisp the turkey skin. Remove the turkey from the bag and cover. Set aside the turkey drippings if making gravy (see recipe below).
There are a few options at this point to crisp and brown the skin. Below are two options but keep in mind you can also brown in butter on the cooktop or deep fry in oil. Whichever approach is used, make sure it is quick, as to not overcook and dry out the turkey.
for the grill: sear over medium-high heat about 2 minutes per side
for the broiler: brown at 500 degrees F. Cook times vary on the cuts of meat: 3 to 4 minutes for the tops of the breasts and thighs and 2 minutes per side for the legs.
Slice the turkey and serve warm with Turkey Sage Gravy (see recipe below).
For the Turkey Sage Gravy
Author note: The amount of turkey drippings will vary. If you cannot extract 1 3/4 cups of liquid from the cooked turkey, adjust the total cooking liquid amount (3 cups) with chicken stock.
3 tbsp butter
3 tbs flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 3/4 cup turkey drippings
1 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken stock
1 small sprig sage leaves (optional)
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp white wine vinegar
In a skillet, melt the butter over medium heat and add the flour. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Once golden, deglaze the pan with the white wine and chicken stock, stirring constantly to incorporate the liquid. Once combined, slowly stir in the turkey drippings. Add the sage and salt.
Bring to a quick boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the gravy is at a desirable thickness. Stir frequently to prevent the gravy from sticking to the bottom of the skillet.
Add the vinegar during the last few minutes of simmering. Salt to taste and serve warm.