Sunday, November 18, 2012


When I saw the Voltaggio Brothers' Thanksgiving episode last year where Chef Bryan made a traditional turkey that was coated in home-made herbed mayonnaise and Chef Michael made turkey parts with black pepper and crispy maple flakes in the sous vide immersion circulator, I was taken aback. My thoughts were mayonnaise as a coating for the turkey? Turkey parts cooked sous vide?  Both recipes piqued my interest, so I was game (no pun intended) and opted to give both a try.  So when I picked up the turkey from my butcher, I also purchased turkey drumsticks to cook a la sous vide.

First, each chef made a unique brine. And each one was unique.  I've brined many turkeys over the years, and it was typically done with salt, brown sugar and oranges.  Not these.  Bryan's brine was a process of cooking more ingredients than the entire turkey dinner and Michael's was another procedure where the brine was injected into the the turkey parts. 

For Bryan's traditional whole bird recipe, he made mayonnaise from scratch. I didn't.  I tried making my own mayonnaise but was unsuccessful (need more practice), so I used my number-one favorite prepared mayonnaise, Kewpie.  I know it's Japanese, but it is a good product and the only prepared mayonnaise that I use.  I added the fresh herbs to it and was ready to roast.  

And since I have a Sous Vide immersion circulator and a vacuum sealer, all I needed to complete Michael's recipe was a turkey brine injector and the maple flakes.  Although Michael butchered the turkey and made all of the parts separately, I only made the drumsticks. Shame on me.

The end result was good for both recipes. It was challenging, fun, and great-tasting turkey done two different ways.

Traditional Roasted Turkey
Recipe adapted from Bryan Voltaggio
Yield:  6-8 servings

For the Brine:
2 tablespoons canola oil
6 ounces chicken wings, halved at the joint
1 turkey neck
1/4 cup carrots, diced
1/4 cup celery, diced
1/4 cup onions, diced
1/2 cup red wine
1 tablespoon soy sauce (preferably Tamari)
3 allspice berries
3 cloves garlic, smashed
2 whole cinnamon sticks
2 sprigs fresh marjoram
2 sprigs fresh thyme

For the Turkey:
One 10-12 pound fresh turkey
1teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 sprigs fresh marjoram
3 sprigs fresh sage
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 green apples, sliced
1 Spanish onion, julienned (about 1 cup)
4 cloves garlic, smashed (about 1 1/2 Tablespoons)
1 cup Herb Mayonnaise (prepared mayonnaise with 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh marjoram, sage, thyme, 2 oz freshly squeezed orange juice and a dash of Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper)

Brine: In a large Dutch oven or stock pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken wings and neck of the turkey and cook, stirring occasionally, until dark brown and roasted, about 10 minutes.

Browning Wings and Neck
Add the carrots, celery and onions and continue cooking until golden, another 5 to 7 minutes. Add the wine and scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to release all bits.  Add 1 quart cold water, the soy sauce, allspice berries, garlic, cinnamon, marjoram and thyme. Bring to a boil. Once the liquid has boiled for 5 minutes, stir well and let cool.   Once cooled, strain out the solids and reserve.

Turkey:  Put the brine and the turkey into a brining bag and seal.

Turkey in Brining Bag
Allow the turkey to brine for 12 hours in the refrigerator before cooking. Rinse the turkey to remove the excess brine and pat dry with towels. Reserve about 1/2 cup of the brine for basting. Let the turkey stand uncovered at room temperature for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Position a rack in lower third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees

Place the reserved brine solids on the bottom of a roasting pan. Then fit the roasting rack over the solids. Sprinkle the turkey cavity with the salt and pepper. Place the marjoram, sage, rosemary, apples, onions and garlic inside the cavity. Truss the turkey with kitchen twine. Coat the turkey evenly with the Herb Mayonnaise.

Turkey Coated in Herb Mayonnaise
Place the turkey, breast-side up, on the rack in the roasting pan and roast for 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees F and roast for about 1 1/2 hours more.  Baste every 15 minutes with the drippings and leftover brine Continue roasting until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thigh registers 165 degrees F. Total roasting time should be 3 to 3 1/2 hours.

Remove the turkey from the oven and allow it to rest about 15 minutes. Cut and discard the kitchen twine and carve. Serve with gravy.
Roasted Turkey
Turkey Drumsticks with Black Pepper and Maple Flakes
Recipe adapted from Michael Voltaggio
Yield:  4 drumsticks

For the Brine:
4 cups apple cider
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cups black peppercorns
2 bunches thyme

For the Turkey:
4 turkey drumsticks
1 Tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons maple flakes
Canola oil

Brine: In a large stockpot over high heat, combine, the apple cider, 4 cups water, kosher salt, maple syrup and black peppercorns. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, add all but 2 sprigs of the thyme, and let the mixture cool. Refrigerate the brine until thoroughly chilled.

Turkey: When the brine has chilled, fill a turkey brine injector with liquid. Insert the injector into the turkey drumsticks, filling each with brine.

Transfer the turkey pieces to a vacuum seal bag and seal according to manufacturer's instructions. Refrigerate for 24 hours.


Prepare a sous vide immersion circulator for use according to the manufacturer's instructions. Preheat the water to 150 degrees F.

Add the pepper and maple flakes to a coffee or spice grinder. Pulse until ground and completely mixed together. Pour the mixture into a large bowl. Place the drumsticks into the mixture and toss to coat. Place each drumstick into a separate vacuum-sealable bag. Using a vacuum sealer, vacuum and seal the bags as instructed above. Place the bags into the circulating water and cook for 2 hours. Remove from the water.

Just before serving, preheat oil in a deep fryer or large, heavy-bottomed pot to 375 degrees F. Remove the turkey pieces from the bags and pat dry. Fry drumsticks until golden and crispy, about 5 minutes per piece. Transfer to a carving board.

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