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Nov 19, 2012 10:11 AM

Sous vide turkey question

I'm doing a sous vide turkey for Thanksgiving using a Michael Voltaggio recipe from Williams Sonoma. It involves breaking down the bird, brining, sous viding, then a quick 5 minute dunk in 375 oil. We did a test run last week, following the recipe and technique to a T and when we cut into the turkey legs the meat was quite pink with a few bloody spots by the bone. In retrospect I should have stuck the Thermapen in right after I took the legs out to make sure the temperature was right inside but I had trusted to recipe. Any concerns as to the appearance or does that come with the sous vide territory in this case?

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  1. Since you are alive and well to give us your results from last week.....I would say you are fine, and no worries.


    1. 2 hours @ 150 degrees should be enough to pasteurize legs that are up to 45 - 50 mm thick. If there is a concern you should be able to drop them in to the bath at the same time as the thighs without losing any quality. A pasteurization table for poultry can be found here

      1. There is a big range in recommendations for sous vide of the dark meat for turkey. Personally, I like it cooked longer, like 6 hours... It gets much more tender. I don't have my notebook with me, but last year I did the breast and legs/thighs separately, different temperatures and much longer time for the dark meat. They came out great.

        2 Replies
        1. re: firecooked


          Do you deep fry after the 6 hours to crisp it up?

          1. re: vchase

            I crisped the skin for the thighs and breast in a hot skillet. I did the legs (eaten at a later time) under the broiler. One of the 1/2 breasts was just used for sandwiches, so that was used as it (and made the BEST turkey sandwiches ever).

        2. How long and at what temp?

          I do breasts for 2 1/2 - 3 hours at 145. That was fine (but the texture of the turkey breast was a touch "lunch-meaty". But I brought them to two dinner parties - and was clearly the winner here. Especially my neighbor who insisted her turkey would be better (I love it when people do that!) She'd overcooked her turkey - dark meat was good, breast was quite dry. She isn't good at being humble or conciliatory. But she was that night. She thought I'd saved her Thanksgiving (I brought 1 large breast, 2 thighs).

          The thighs (with bones) at 175 for 10 hours. I've read 8-10 hours. But they came out stringy, but fairly moist. Next time I'd try them at a lower temp, or a shorter time period. 150 for 4 hours. Anyone had much experience in this arena?

          BTW - I brined everything for 24 hours.

          1. You need to cook the breasts differently than the dark meat pieces.

            I used Michael Votaggio's recipe with turkey breasts, but setting the machine to 144 degrees for three hours. It came out great.

            I didn't cook dark meat sous vide. Most people cook the dark meat for a lot longer (6-10 hours) as well as at a higher temperature to give time to break down the collagen. Plus a lot of people say that the difference in flavor / texture for dark meat isn't as pronounced with sous vide as it is with white meat.

            1 Reply
            1. re: calumin

              Thanks for your response. I actually did the recipe as it was written except I added the turkey legs at the same time as the thighs. I didn't get any pinkishness in the meat / blood by the bones this time around. Seems like there are a lot of different temps and times to play with as far as sous viding the different turkey cuts so maybe there will be some experimenting down the line.

              I was generally pleased with how the turkey came out. The brine had a lot of citrus and quarter cups of 5 different spices and I don't think anyone of those flavors came through in the final product, except for maybe the cloves. I thought the thighs came out the best.