Sous Vide Turkey

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Serves 8 or moresous vide turkey


  • 1 whole (10 to 14 pound) turkey, fresh or thawed
  • 1 ½ cups (320 grams) kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) black pepper corns
  • 1 gallon (3.8 liters) water
  • 1 stick (1/4 pound/120 grams) unsalted butter


For the preparation of the turkey

  1. Prepare the turkey by carefully removing both breasts and the two leg quarters, with the skin intact (or ask your butcher to do this for you.) You can leave the breasts joined, which makes a nice presentation on the platter, or separate the halves.
  2. Make the brine by combining the water, salt, and peppercorns in a large pot over low heat; stir until the salt fully dissolves; remove from heat and allow the brine to cool.
  3. Put the turkey breast and leg quarters into the brine and refrigerate overnight. (If your refrigerator cannot accommodate the large pot, put the turkey pieces into separate gallon zip closure bags, pour the brine over them, seal and refrigerate.
  4. When ready to sous vide, remove the turkey from the brine, rinse the pieces well, and pat dry.

For cooking the turkey breasts

  1. Preheat the water oven to 146F/63C.
  2. Sprinkle the breasts lightly with poultry seasoning and ground black pepper and vacuum seal them in a large food-grade pouch with ¼ stick (1 ounce/30 grams) unsalted butter.
  3. Cook the breast meat for 2 ½ hours, remove, quick chill the pouches submerged in ice water for at least 45 minutes (adding ice as needed) and refrigerate the pouches for up to 48 hours.

For cooking the turkey leg quarters

  1. Preheat the water oven to 176F/80C.
  2. Sprinkle the leg quarters lightly with poultry seasoning and ground black pepper and vacuum/seal them separately in two large food-grade pouches, each with ¼ stick (1 ounce/30 grams) unsalted butter.
  3. Cook for 8 to 10 hours (overnight works well.)
  4. Remove the pouches from the water oven, quick chill the pouches submerged in ice water for at least 1 hour, and refrigerate up to 48 hours.

Reheating for the feast

  1. Return the pouches (both dark and white meat) to a 146F/63C water bath for an hour before the feast to re-warm.
  2. For the finishing step, brown and crisp the turkey skin, using the broiler set to high, a hot skillet on the stovetop, or a kitchen torch. (We prefer the broiler method (step 3) as being more hands off.)
  3. Just before serving, remove the turkey pieces from their cooking pouches, pat their skin surface dry with a paper towel, brush them with melted butter, and put them skin side up onto a broiling rack; sear the exterior until brown, about 5 to 6 minutes under the broiler.
  4. Arrange the turkey breasts and the leg quarters on a serving platter with garnish for the big presentation, if desired.
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