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A Better Way to Turkey

Serves: Makes 1 whole cut-up turkey


  • 1 turkey, whole fresh
  • Black peppercorns, optional, for stock as needed
  • Herbs, fresh, such as thyme and sage, as needed
  • 1 onion, optional, for stock
  • Olive oil, as needed
  • Salt, a few tbsp, as needed
  • Sugar, a few tbsp, as needed
  • Butter, 1 to 2 tbsp, as needed


  • Set sous vide tool to 150°F / 66°C.
  • Heat oven to 225°F / 107°C (optional, for stock).
  • Break down turkey: 2 breasts (boneless breast with drumette) and 2 legs (thigh and drumstick together).
  • Make stock, cover, and heat in oven for eight hours (or reserve in fridge and then cook overnight).
  • Presear breasts and legs.
  • Make and apply brining mixture.
  • Bag up breasts and legs with oil and herbs.
  • Begin cooking legs.
  • Transfer breasts to the fridge.

  • THANKSGIVING EVE Night (about 12 hours later):
  • Adjust sous vide temperature to 131°F / 55°C.
  • Add breasts to the water with the legs.

  • THANKSGIVING DAY (Twenty minutes before the feast):
  • Remove turkey from bags and pat dry.
  • Set oven to broil.
  • Heat pan on stove over medium-high heat.
  • Broil legs.
  • Finish breasts in the pan.
  • Portion, plate, and serve.


Preheat Joule Sous Vide to 150°F / 66°C

Break down your bird. Make stock with the extra bits (optional but awesome): Preheat oven to 225°F / 107°C. Place turkey leftovers—carcass, extra skin, any meat bits—in a dutch oven with a lid. Slice the onion in half and add it, plus peppercorns, fresh herbs, and any other seasonings you want. Add enough water to cover everything, then put on the lid. Cook stock for about eight hours (or overnight). Strain, and use in gravy, freeze for later, or stick in the fridge for making Black Friday turkey pho with the leftover meat.

Presear your pieces: Set up your station by arranging turkey pieces on a tray or platter next to the stove. Grab a couple of kitchen towels and place them beside the turkey. Heat a pan over medium-high heat and add a healthy amount of oil. Let the pan get really hot—hot enough that when you flick a few drops of water in there, they sizzle. Grab one of the breasts and place it, skin side down, in the pan—lower the section closest to you first so that there is less of a chance of getting splattered with hot oil. Use a towel (or some tongs) to press down firmly on the breast so that as much skin as possible makes contact with the pan. Rotate that breast around the pan, then carefully tilt the pan toward you to create a small pool of oil so you can get the skin along the sides. Sear for a minute or two, then remove and follow the same process with the second breast. Repeat with each of the legs.

Combine salt and sugar; bag everything up: In a bowl, combine 5 parts salt and 2 parts sugar, and stir. Sprinkle all over your turkey pieces (NOTE: We use 1.5 percent of the weight of the meat in salt-sugar mixture.) If you tend to like things lightly seasoned, you can reduce that to 1 percent. Place the turkey breasts, some herbs (we like sage), and a little oil together in a two-gallon bag. In a second bag, combine legs, fresh herbs, and oil. Let the breasts cool to room temperature, than transfer to the fridge until it’s time to cook them.

Cook legs for 12 hours: Lower bag into the water and clip to the side of your pot. Wrap pot in high-quality plastic wrap or cover with a lid to prevent evaporation.

Adjust temp to 131°F / 55°C and add breasts: Once legs have cooked for 12 hours, set your sous vide tool to 131°F / 55°C. Just leave those legs in the pot, they’re gonna be great. Add breasts to the water with the legs. Cover the pot back up with plastic wrap or a lid.

Finish: Remember, this recipe is very forgiving. Once legs have cooked, you can add the breasts and continue cooking for anywhere from 8 to 14 more hours and that. turkey. is. going. to. be. epic. Turn on your oven’s broil setting. Transfer the turkey pieces from the bags to a tray or platter, and pat each piece dry on both sides.

Meanwhile, heat a pan on the stove over medium-high heat and add a healthy amount of oil. Transfer legs to an oven-safe dish and place on the top rack of your oven. Allow to broil 5 to 15 minutes, depending on your oven—keep a close eye on that bird and remove when it looks golden brown and delicious. When your pan on the stove is ripping hot, add a knob of butter and allow to melt. Add breasts, skin side down, and use a spoon to baste the exposed side with butter. Sear one minute, flip, and baste the skin side a couple times as well. Remove from pan.

Serve! Slice each piece into four or five portions, or arrange on a platter whole. Tuck fresh herbs between pieces, and serve to your adoring guests!

by ChefSteps

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