Each year I try to find something new to add to my annual post on producing the best possible Thanksgiving turkey dinner by deep frying said bird whole. The procedure for cooking your bird to perfection without killing yourself by fire or bacteriological warfare is down below the fold. But first, I want to address a secondary idea for those of you who won’t be frying your bird. After all, this process is not for everyone. As I note below, if you live in the city proper, this bird is not for you. A whole bird is more than many people need, as well. And you simply must not drink before or while frying a turkey.
… which alone is enough to put many of you off the whole idea!
So for those of you are not in a position to fry your bird, and who don’t mind just having white meat…
Admit it! Only your cousin Bob even pretends to prefer like the dark stuff.
…I have an alternative method of cooking your turkey that gives you perfect white meat, far better than anything you’ll get from a traditional oven, and almost as good as frying. Use a sous vide water bath oven.
I won’t go into a full discussion of how to cook via sous vide here. There are better resources than me, and I still want all of you, who can, to fry your bird safely. But if you don’t know what it is, you buy a special counter-top appliance which can maintain exact temperatures in a water bath. You’ll need an oven like the one above from Sous Vide Supreme. They come in two sizes, Regular, and Demi. They are not cheap, but you’ll use the snot out of yours year-round, because you’ve never cooked better steaks, fish, omelets, or especially turkey in your kitchen any other way.
You vacuum-seal an unprocessed turkey breast, along with butter and whatever seasonings you wish, and place the pouch (or pouches, if you need more meat) in the sous vide oven, with the water at the exact temperature you want the final internal temperature of your meat to be. For this, you need a vacuum sealer and the right sized pouches. We own a FoodSaver, but any such device will do the trick. Just make sure you have a good seal.
Cooking time is just about whatever is convenient for you. Depending on the size of cut, and how frozen it is (no need ever to defrost with sous vide), it will take a minimum of 90 minutes to 2.5 hours. But you don’t need to worry about being there to take it out when it is done. Because the water is the temperature of the final doneness, it will never overcook the food. Leave it in an extra two hours if the game goes into triple overtime, or the McGillicuddys drop by to say hello. When you are almost ready to serve the dinner, take out the pouch, cut it open, and either flash broil it, drop it into a rocket hot cast iron skillet, or just brown it to perfection with one of these. Guess which one I love doing?
That’s it. Serve right away. No need to worry about carry over, where the meat will cook an extra 5-10 degrees after you take it out. Nor do you need to let it rest before carving. The meat has cooked in every drop of its original juices, and is at the perfect temperature.
It is far better white meat than you will ever get from an oven-roasted whole bird. It’s easier. It’s more bullet-proof. And did I mention it tastes much better? The only downsides are: no dark meat, no carcass for stock, fewer leftovers, and you won’t have this scene at the dinner table.
But for lots of us, any or all of those aren’t really a drawback.
Anyway, on to the main event. Enjoy your Thanksgiving and don’t kill yourself!