Those of you who follow me on Twitter, also known to me as “My Favorites”, know that this past Thursday I did a test-run of the meal I will be cooking for Pete’s fam this Thanksgiving. I would have been nervous about poisoning all of my new relatives on Thanksgiving anyway, but I was doubly overwhelmed because I decided to attempt to sous vide the turkey because this guy: Grant Achatz told me that was the thing to do.
I mean, he didn’t actually tell me personally, but the day after Halloween I was super hungover and spent most of the day watching videos of him cooking on youtube and got inspired. If you don’t know who Grant Achatz is, first of all, grow up.
He is like the amazingest chef in the world. He is considered one of the forerunners and biggest stars of the molecular gastronomy movement, and was awarded Best Chef U.S. by the James Beard Foundation in 2008. His restaurant, Alinea, is here in Chicago and has been rated among the top 10 restaurants in the world since it opened in 2005. You might have also seen him on Oprah talking about his battle with cancer.
Achatz was diagnosed with carcinoma of the mouth in 2007, and was told that he would have to lose his tongue in order to live. He said he would rather die than lose his tongue- can you even imagine that diagnosis? For anyone it would be devestating, but for a chef and an artist like that?? Instead Chef Achatz underwent an aggressive chemotherapy and radiation therapy, the treatments affected his ability to taste and smell food, and many other renouned chefs stepped up to help keep Alinea afloat- speaking to how well-respected both he and his restaurant are in the industry.
Pete and I were lucky enough to eat at Alinea when we first moved to Chicago, and to say my mind was completely blown would be an understatement. Here he is testing cocktails for his newest endeavor, Aviary:
What a talented maniac. Love. So when he told me to sous vide or be a cooking weenie, I started boiling the water.
I have never sous vide anything and have no special equipment. I was armed only with these two videos: Part 1 and Part 2 of Achatz and some research into the specifics of the recipe. Which I will now relay to you thusly:
One big ol’ turkey lurk
2 sticks of butter
Bunches of sage and thyme
Large large lobster pot
2 ZipLock Freezer bags
1. Fill up your large pot o’water and put it on medium heat for a really, really long time. Like an hour. Secure the themometer to the side and monitor the temp. You want the water to be stable between 170-175 when you are sous vide-ing and it can take awhile to regulate the temp.
2. Break down the bird by separating the two pieces of breast meat and the two thighs. Try not to vomit.
3. Place both breasts into one ziplock bag, and both thighs into the other. Place into the bag 1 cut up stick of butter, a wee bit of salt/pepper, a large bundle of thyme and sage, and a couple of cloves of garlic. Seal up the bags and try to get as much air out as possible.
4. Once the temperature of the water reads steady between 170-175 place both bags into the pot and leave for approx 2.5 hours.Just like that, you are sous viding. Like a boss.Cooking brilliance and professionalism right there. Ignore evidence of red wine lips.
5. After approx 2.5 hours you will have two fully cooked but wholly unappetizing looking bags of turkey. Empty the contents of the bags into a mixing bowl and remove turkey pieces, wiping off excess fat. Get a pan smoking hot, put in a touch of olive oil, and sear the turkey, first skin side down, until it is browned and crispy and yummy looking. This only takes about a minute or two on each side of the pan is hot enough.
6. Plate, fight with your husband over the leg, and serve.The verdict from our guests was that the turkey was moist and herby and delicious- just like Chef Achatz promised. I also made some delicious sides that I will share with you later this week in my for reals Thanksgiving post, I just couldn’t leave My Favorites (aka those who follow me on Twitter) hanging on how the test-run went.
Also, I was wondering if any of you have any boss-like recipes to share for Thanksgiving? We can break bread virtually…how festive!