Friday, December 6, 2013

Thanksgiving After Action Report: Sous Vide Deep Fried "Turchetta"

Sous Vide Deep Fried Turchetta

Since we have a Thanksgiving tradition where meat eaters are in the minority (usually I am the only one), roasting a whole turkey is basically an exercise in insanity. I'd either be eating it three meals a day for a week and a half or tossing it out, so I look for nothing bigger than a small turkey breast when I start planning. Given the aforementioned vegetarian related constraints, I also like to not take up the oven for hours on end if possible. Last year I made turkey confit and that was basically perfect. It's not too much food, all but the last bit can be done ahead of time, and it was incredibly delicious. In fact, I was so satisfied with the outcome that I was planning on doing that again... that is until I saw Kenji at Serious Eats put out a recipe for Sous Vide Deep Fried Turchetta (so yes, I made yet another Food Lab recipe).

Preparing to roll up Turchetta

Porchetta is pork belly that is stuffed with garlic, fennel, and herbs before being rolled up and roasted or fried... so this recipe is trying to do the same thing but with a turkey breast. You take off the skin, separate the breast meat from the bone, butterfly it to make them flat, rub with your herb paste, and then wrap it up in the skin in a cute little cylinder. It's actually easier than you think, and I honestly spent the most time obsessively re-wrapping and tying the thing... trying to get "perfect" skin coverage... which, of course, turned out to be perfectly meaningless because nobody is looking at that when you bring it to the table.

After I vacuum sealed the turchetta I let it cure for a couple of days and made turkey stock from the bones. The stock only took about an hour with a pressure cooker and then I was done until Thanksgiving day, which was a pretty nice feeling. Besides making the gravy from the turkey stock, all I had to do with it on the day of was stick the turchetta in the water bath for 5+ hours and take it out to deep fry right before we were getting ready to sit down. As the recipe warns, the hot oil did flare/splatter a ton in the first minute or so, so you want to use an actual lid and not just a splatter screen or you will have a big mess on your hands. Final product looked great... even the vegetarians were impressed at how professional it looked... and it tasted just as good. Totally worth making if you have the means.

If I ever cook for a large group of omnivores I think I would probably take a whole turkey and break it down to do the legs confit and the breast like this... that would be the ultimate.