April – Sous Vide Frozen Turkey Thighs or Legs

During this crazy time we are all minimizing the number of times we visit the grocery store. I used to shop almost daily and now I am down to twice a month. That’s a big deal for me. It’s a long list by then and takes meal planning to an entirely different level. How are you doing with it?

Shopping that infrequently means I am stocking my freezer and cooking out of it. Tacking a list on the outside door of the freezer helps me keep track of what is in there and the dates they were frozen. To avoid freezer burn, I vacuum pack and label food before freezing. If I have a particular dish or recipe in mind for the food, I will rub with spices or herbs plus salt and pepper before freezing.

(From Wikipedia – “Freezer burn is a condition that occurs when frozen food has been damaged by dehydration and oxidation, due to air reaching the food. It is generally caused by food not being securely wrapped in air-tight packaging. … Freezer burn does not make the food unsafe; it merely causes dry spots in foods.”)

Enter sous vide, you can sous vide food directly out of your freezer. You don’t need to defrost it, just add some additional cooking time. The flavor and quality of the meat will not suffer one tiny bit. You may need to do some browning once it is cooked, but that is a last minute thing.

I scored some organic turkey thighs at the market a couple of weeks ago and wanted to prepare them in the style of duck confit (but without all that fat). I’ve been cooking my Thanksgiving turkey sous vide for several years now and love the way the dark meat comes out tender and juicy, not at all tough and stringy. I generally cook the dark meat for 24 hours (yes, no mistake). This time, because the thighs were going to be cooked while frozen solid, I added another 3 hours to the cooking time. This recipe would also work for whole legs, those were not available at the store on that particular day.

I know that 27 hours sounds like a lot, but almost all of it is unattended. Just add the vacuum packed, frozen, thighs or whole legs to the preheated water and let it go overnight. It as easy to start in the afternoon of the day before, they were ready by dinner the next day. The turkey comes out tender and juicy, almost the texture of pulled pork, and it can be used in similar recipes.

Sous Vide Turkey Thighs

Sous Vide Turkey Thighs – Looks Like Pulled Pork

I used a temperature of 149 degrees F/65 degrees C for 24 hours (not frozen), and added an additional 3 because they were cooked frozen. So a total of 27 hours cooking time.

Sous Vide Turkey Thighs

Sous Vide Turkey Thighs – After Cooking, Before Browning

You can use the turkey meat immediately for chili or tacos or make it into a salad.

Chili with Sous Vide Turkey

Chili with Sous Vide Turkey

You could also brown the turkey before vacuum packing, I usually do that during the holidays. It adds an extra layer of flavor and it is easier to press the meat into the hot pan for uniform browning. You then can crisp them in a hot pan or the broiler after they finish with the sous vide. I didn’t pre brown them this time as I was intent on getting them into the freezer. I find that once cooked they are more solid, it’s difficult to uniformly brown all the skin unless you deep fry them (something I didn’t want to do).

It didn’t matter for me this time. I used 2 thighs for the chili and browned the other two.

Sous Vide Frozen Turkey

Sous Vide Frozen Turkey

They were sliced and served with mashed potatoes and a salad. Thanksgiving in April.

You won’t believe this is turkey, the texture and taste is more similar to duck confit.

2 thoughts on “April – Sous Vide Frozen Turkey Thighs or Legs

  1. It really does take some planning as far as our meals go. We have not left our home since the middle of March. I order my groceries online and have them delivered every two weeks. I get most of what I order but something is always unavailable. Your turkey thighs look very moist and tender and will provide you will some delicious meals.

    • You are lucky to have the delivery service, it isn’t available here. It has been a surprise every time I go to the store, seeing what they have and what they are out of. Toilet paper and paper towels are still is short supply, surely folks have enough by now! And I don’t understand the need for so many paper towels anyway.

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