November/December – Turkey 3 Ways

November/December – Turkey 3 Ways

My contribution for Thanksgiving and/or Christmas dinner is usually the turkey. Last year I cooked the turkey sous vide, this year I am trying a recipe using the slow cooker. I am not usually a big fan of the slow cooker, but it fits into the day’s schedule and the recipe sounds promising. There won’t be that many turkey eaters at the gathering, a half turkey breast will be enough. This one is stuffed under the skin with a flavorful garlic herb butter and my garden will provide all the herbs needed. The original recipe for Garlic Herb Slow Cooker Turkey Breast can be found on the blog RecipeTinEats, written by a blogger out of Australia. I will post the results and pictures in time for you to consider it for Christmas dinner, sorry about Thanksgiving.IMG_8468

Our local market doesn’t sell half bone-in turkey breasts (unlike in Australia where I understand they are common), so I purchased a whole turkey and had the butcher cut it in half. I split up the rest myself. I separated the legs and thighs from the breast, they will be cooked sous vide for turkey confit,. You can find the recipe for crisply turkey legs confit from the food lab here. They turn out tender, juicy and flavorful, I’ve made the recipe before but don’t have any pictures. I will remedy that when I fish them out of the freezer and prepare them. The remaining half breast I boned and froze for future dinners. I have cooked it still frozen, by sous vide. You can see my post here, based on the recipe from the food lab. Cook it still frozen?! Yes it works. Just add an additional half of the time to the total cooking time. For example, if the recipe calls for 4 hours, cook it sous vide for 6 at the same temperature.

The butcher was kind enough to cut the turkey in half, the rest I did myself. I divided one 18 pound turkey into:

  • 1 half-breast with wing (tip cut off) on the bone to cook for Thanksgiving in the slow cooker. It was just over 6 pounds.
  • 1 half-breast, boned and put into a vacuum sealed with some lemon confit slices, sage, rosemary and thyme. Popped in the freezer to sous vide at some future time.
  • 2 legs (leg and thigh) which I browned first in olive oil and vacuum sealed with lemon confit slices, sage, thyme, and rosemary. One leg per bag. I will cook them sous vide slowly over 24 hours in the manner of duck confit. I put those in the freezer as well.
  • bones from the boned out breast, neck, and giblets frozen for stock.

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    Turkey Stock Simmering

Boned Turkey Breast, Vacuum Sealed

Turkey Breast – Cooked Frozen and Sous Vide

 

Vacuum Packed Turkey Legs with Confit Lemons and Fresh Herbs

I carefully labeled everything with the contents and the date. From experience we have had many meals of ‘mystery’ meat or soup. At the original time I put the package in the freezer I was sure I would remember what was in it; if it was vegetarian or regular chili. But frequently the answer was no.

And how did the thighs turn out, cooked 24 hours sous vide at 149 degrees F?

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Is was juicy and tender, the juices were amazing. I used the meat in tacos and they were delicious, rivaling carnitas and much lower fat. I removed the skin but it could have been given a second crisping if you wanted.

That gave me at least 4 meals, probably more. The slow cooker breast will serve 6 people with leftovers. It weighed about 6 pounds with the bone.

The slow cooker turkey breast turned out tender but I thought it a little dry. It was easy and required little hands on time.

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Would I do this recipe again? I am not sure. I liked the texture of the sous vide turkey better and it was moister than the slow cooker recipe. But, the slow cooker recipe may just need some tweaking. Cooking it a little less than the suggested 6 hours might make the difference. If you try it, check the internal temperature after 5 hours. Unfortunately I was busy with other things at the 5 hour mark. Slow cookers vary in their cooking temperature so your own could take more or less time. Also, next time I think I would stuff the butter and seasonings under the skin (per the recipe) and let it rest in the fridge for a day or so.

The important part is that it was received well by the carnivores at the gathering, the gravy made up for any dryness. That was delicious.

After the holidays, turkeys frequently go on sale. It’s worth picking one up for the future. Ask your butcher to split it down the middle. Depending on your store and the kindness of your butcher, perhaps he or she would even cut off the legs for you. Or, with a sharp knife, you can do it yourself. I found poultry shears the best way to cut through the joint at the thigh. A whole turkey can be overwhelming, and you are not as likely to get tired of the leftovers if they are in smaller portions.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. The holidays are upon us!

 

January – Turkey Chili

January – Turkey Chili

Okay, I know there are about a million recipes out there for chili. I have a whole Pinterest folder full of them. Why do you need one more? Well…what about easy, almost fat free, delicious, full of healthy vegetables, suitable for both phase 1 and phase 3 of the Fast Metabolism Diet, and lastly an insurance policy in the freezer. Chili is the answer for the question “what shall we have for dinner?” frequently posed at 6 pm when everyone is tired, hungry, and grumpy. That’s the kind of insurance I’m talking about. It’s good with rice, with cornbread, poured over a baked potato, garnished with cheese or avocado or chips or cilantro or chopped onion or sour cream, use it in a burrito bowl or rolled in a taco. Whew! And it is delicious just as is, perfect for lunch or dinner on a chilly day. You have lots of options.

This recipe makes a big batch, four quarts of chili. Enough for to put a quart or two in the freezer.

2 cups of chili are a phase 1 meal, garnish with half a sliced avocado for phase 3. Because of the large amounts of legumes, it counts as a starch as well as a protein.

Turkey Chili

4 quarts of Turkey Chili

Turkey Chili

Makes 4 quarts – 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds of ground turkey
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro or parsley
  • 1 heaping tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes (depending on how spicy you like your chili)
  • 2 cans of black beans
  • 1 can of pinto beans, drained
  • 4 cups of chopped zucchini
  • 2 red peppers, chopped
  • 1 32 ounce can of chopped tomatoes with juice
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt plus more to taste

Directions:

  1. Brown the turkey over medium heat in a large heavy bottomed pot, add a tablespoon or two of water if it sticks.
  2. Add the onion, herbs, chili powder, cumin, garlic and red chili flakes to the pot. Cook on until the onion softens, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the 2 cans of black beans with their liquid, the drained pinto beans, and the tomatoes. Bring to a simmer and turn down the heat. Simmer 40 minutes.
  4. Add the zucchini, red pepper and salt, simmer for another 40 minutes to an hour.
  5. Taste for salt.
  6. Garnish with chopped cilantro, thinly sliced cabbage, avocado, sour cream, cheese, etc.

    Turkey Chili

    Turkey Chili

This recipe is adapted from one in the Fast Metabolism Diet.

 

January – Sous Vide Frozen Turkey Breast

January – Sous Vide Frozen Turkey Breast

One of the wonderful things about sous vide is that you can cook your food while it is still frozen…yes, frozen solid. You only need to increase the cooking time by half. For example, if something takes 4 hours normally, cook it for 6 if frozen. Even better, the maximum timing is flexible. Need to be out of the house for 8 hours? No problem.

Cooking things frozen allows you to take advantage of periodic sales, like the one recently for post holiday season boneless turkey breasts. After all it would still take at least overnight to thaw in your fridge, no waiting for that thaw time. And it comes out as if it had been cooked fresh.

I purchased an organic boneless turkey breast just after New Year’s and popped it in my freezer. Before putting it in a bag for vacuum sealing (you can also use a heavy duty ziplock bag), I browned it…yes still frozen, and after browning rubbed it well with salt and herbs de Provence. Then I vacuum sealed it in the bag and placed it in my sous vide water bath which had been preheated to 134 degrees F. Normal cooking times for a turkey breast are 8 to 24 hours. The frozen breast will take longer of course. It could be done in 12 hours but can go much longer. It will become even more tender with longer cooking time, but don’t go overboard as it will turn to mush. I cooked mine for about 28 hours.

Browned Turkey Breast

Turkey Breast Vacuum Sealed and Ready to Cook

We Are Cooking

Be sure the water covers the top of your bag and cover your container with a lid or plastic wrap. 24 hours is a long time and the water will evaporate otherwise. You don’t want to have to get up in the middle of the night to check the water level.

It turned out tender and delicious. If you are serving it warm, I would brown it again. But because this was intended for sandwiches and cold meals I didn’t bother.

Overnight Sous Vide Turkey Breast

Sous Vide Turkey Breast – Fresh or Frozen

  1. Preheat the sous vide water bath to 134 degrees F
  2. Brown the fresh or frozen turkey breast in olive oil, concentrating on the skin side
  3. When cool, rub with salt and your herb of choice (I used herb de Provence)
  4. Seal in a vacuum bag or place in a heavy duty ziplock bag.
  5. Immerse in the water bath, using the water displacement method to force out any air in a ziplock bag. Make sure the turkey breast is covered by the water.
  6. Cover your water bath with plastic wrap or a lid.
  7. Cook for 8 to 24 hours if fresh, 12 to 30 if frozen.
  8. If serving warm you may want to brown it again.