Turkey Sous Vide

It’s time once again for Americans to gorge themselves on hormone-laced meats covered in several sauces and gravies, all of which inexplicably contain corn syrup. It’s also Thanksgiving this Thursday, so there’s that, too. If you have a turkey defrosting somewhere, you’ve probably gone over all your cooking options – the oven, a giant propane-heated pot of peanut oil, and yes, even sous vide. [Trey] over at TI came up with a great sous vide controller using a few LaunchPad Booster packs, and surprisingly, he can even cook a turkey.

The basic idea of sous vide is to vacuum pack your protein, put it in a closely-controlled water bath, and cook it so the inside is always the same temperature as the outside. It’s delicious, and it takes a long time. We can automate that, though.

[Trey] is using a USB LaunchPad and a thermocouple BoosterPack to monitor the temperature of a water bath. A custom SSR board is wired right into the heater, and a CC3100 provides a network connection to monitor the bird. While the network may seem a bit superfluous, it’s actually a great idea; sous vide takes hours, and you really don’t dote on your warm tub of water. Being able to receive SMS alerts from a sous vide controller is actually a great idea.

With everything wired up, [Trey] tried out his recipe for deep-fried turkey porchetta. From the pictures, it looks great and according to [Trey] it was the juiciest turkey he’s ever had.

15 thoughts on “Turkey Sous Vide

  1. Warning – sous viding turkey (or chicken) to only 140°F yields meat with an unfamiliar texture. Has a firmness and chewiness to it you’d normally associate with other meats, and encountering it with poultry can really put some off. For a first timer, I’d suggest 150°F instead; this yields a traditional texture, yet is still incredibly juicy.

    Turkey (instead of pork) porchetta is a new one on me though. Sounds dee-lish, I’ll have to try it soon.

    This year I’m spatchcocking and offset smoking the turkey at 225°F on the Weber kettle. Since that’s also a slow cooking method, it can be nearly as juicy as sous vide. Have fun hacking your Thanksgiving dinners this year, folks!

      1. The 165F temperature assumes that the meat will only make it up to that temperature for a short period of time. You can get away with lower temperatures with sous vide because the meat stays at moderately high temperature for a very long period of time.

        For an interesting look at sous vide from a scientific perspective, check out this paper (with some awesome photos): http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1878450X11000035

      2. The safe cooking depends on time as much as temperature. Traditionally, the meat is quickly cooked to 165°F and then eaten. Bacteria starts to die off well before 165°F but by reaching this temperature (even for a short time) you can assume enough time and intensity has occurred to kill everything. However, sous viding is done for significantly longer periods of time where the temperature is maintained. This provides plenty of time for those little buggers to die off even if it is at a lower temperature.

      3. According to the USDA (http://www.fsis.usda.gov/OPPDE/rdad/FRPubs/95-033F/95-033F_Appendix_A.htm), poultry needs to be held at 140F for 12 minutes for safety. With the longer temperature dwell times of sous vide, you can actually pasteurize at this temperature. Personnally, I have been making my own lunchmeat using tables provided by Doug Baldwin (http://www.douglasbaldwin.com/sous-vide.html). For roast beef, which I like rare to medium rare, we cook at 132F for many hours. Very safe and it keeps so much better than store bought deli. We do pork, chicken, turkey, beef. All yummy and all safe.

  2. I have a table top Sous Vide cooker and boy does that thing turn out some tender cuts of meat! As others have said, chicken can be a little weird at first, but it is so tender it literally falls apart. I typically cook my steak and chicken in sous vide and then sear the outside on the grill to give it a better texture on the outside.

  3. “It’s time once again for Americans to gorge themselves on hormone-laced meats covered in several sauces and gravies, all of which inexplicably contain corn syrup.”

    wtf? is this supposed to be ‘cute’?

    1. Far as I know, [Brian] is a ‘murican, and therefore allowed to poke fun at a holiday which is typically celebrated by unhealthy eating habits. (And will probably still participate in the gluttony, the irony of which is almost as delicious as the meal.)

      Though after thinking about it a bit more, I’m curious what sauces and gravies are traditionally consumed around the [Benchoff] homestead, that contain corn syrup. Cranberry sauce is a no-brainer. But I can’t think of anything else off the top of my head. Canned gravy, maybe? Can’t say what’s in it, have never used it, being part Cajun French I’m spoiled to homemade gravy made with a roux.

      Or maybe [Brian] just watched “King Corn”.

      1. Canned everything has corn syrup. Some folks use canned sweet potato or canned pumpkin puree; or canned gravy. Canned corn might not have HFCS, but it sweet corn (which naturally has a higher fructose level) is the favorite.

        Or maybe he reads reddit, where this joke about Worcester sauce was made:
        “Spot the American recipe:
        A: Distilled white vinegar, molasses, water, sugar, onions, anchovies, salt, garlic, cloves, tamarind extract, natural flavourings, chili pepper extract
        B: Distilled Vinegar, Water, Molasses, Corn Syrup, Salt, Anchovies,Tamarind Extract, Sugar, Spices, Dehydrated Garlic Powder, Caramel Color, Xanthan Gum, Propylene Glycol Alginate, Natural Flavors (Soy)”

        1. ‘merica is a bounty of any and everything you could want re: food. yes, some people make poor choices, but to say/imply that all americans guzzle corn syrup in everything they consume is just silly, especially on such a holiday. many families go all out, and go out of their way to use high quality ingredients.

          that being said feel sorry for people who are eating canned food on thanksgiving. there are plenty of sauces/ingredients on the market (including the ‘joke’ worcester) that does not contain corn syrup at all. i guess i just dont ‘get it’, other than ‘haha americans are all fat and stupid’, which, really isnt that funny (or true).

  4. Good Article. I played w/sous vide using several types of dial controlled cookers. Best was large electric wok with dial control. Use a grate on the bottom to keep plastic bags from melting. Run most things at 140F-145F overnight. After evacuating and sealing special bags, ended up with double zipper ziplocks , leaving the zippers above water. Was going to use an aquarium air pump for more uniform temp, but it holds within 1F-2F without. Checked with digital thermocouple, but have gone to IR gun. Other than eggs and bragging rights, temp doesn’t seem all that critical. Tri-tip tender as Filet Mignon with better flavor. Fish great. Turkey at 150F white, 160F dark is beyond traditional methods.

    I highly recommend Douglas Baldwin for safety info. He wrote books on SV, but is also generous with info on line. .

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