Sous Vide Wild Turkey | Easy Cooking, Professional Results
We’re assuming that if you regularly read our content, you’re a fan of wild game cooking. From venison to turkey to every critter in between, there are lots of great ways to cook wild game that is excellent tasting for your family and friends. Of all those cooking methods, sous vide is a very easy way to produce consistently good food that is safe to eat. In the video below, Michael walks you through how to sous vide wild turkey and talks about the results. Spoiler: it just might be a game changer for you.
What is Sous Vide Cooking?
Before we jump into how to sous vide wild turkey, let’s back up and look at the concept itself. Sous vide (pronounced sue-veed) cooking has been around for many years, used mostly in professional settings (i.e., restaurants), but it is really taking off in home kitchens too. People are sometimes spooked by its fancy French name, but it is a very easy method to cook foods with consistent quality.
Essentially, cooking foods with this method involves vacuum sealing food in a plastic bag and then immersing it in a hot water bath – think hot tub for food prep – except that this water is controlled precisely at a certain temperature. An immersed circulator keeps the water in your chosen vessel or pot moving around and controlled exactly. So, for example, if you want your food served at an exact temperature (e.g., to produce rare or medium food), you know exactly what temperature water you need to use without overcooking and drying it out. From edge to edge, the food will be cooked consistently and perfectly. After it comes out of the water bath, you can even finish it off by searing it on a grill or in a pan to get that crispy delicious crust. Here are some of the benefits of sous vide cooking:
- Consistency – cooking your food at an exact temperature in the water bath for a certain amount of time means your food will always be at the exact right temperature. Through and through, it will be the same quality.
- Easy – assuming you have a vacuum sealer and sous vide machine, the process is very easy and takes very little time. We’ll walk through the steps below for sous vide wild turkey. You can sometimes get away with using heavy-duty zipper freezer bags, but vacuum sealing will ensure it stays shut while your food cooks.
- Texture/Taste – because foods are sealed in a plastic bag while they cook, they contain all their own juices and stay deliciously tender and juicy without losing any of their volume. Venison and wild turkey, in particular, can easily dry out when cooked conventionally, so this is a great way to make your wild game taste better.
Steps to Sous Vide a Turkey
Step 1: Prepare the Water
Fill a plastic tub or pot up to the designated water fill level (without overfilling and spilling over) and plug in your sous vide circulator machine. This will allow it to get up to the proper temperature before you cook. The temperature you choose depends on the meat you’re cooking. For example, you could use the lower end of a range if you prefer your meat more on the rare side, or higher temperature if you prefer it well done. But to be safe, always cook it above a minimum food-safe temperature, which is typically over 130oF.
Step 2: Seasoning
Next, you’ll want to season and vacuum seal your bird – whether it’s the thighs, drumsticks, or individual breasts. Obviously, you can add whatever spices and herbs you want to flavor the turkey meat. This part is where you can get creative depending on the meal you’re preparing. After you’ve added everything, you should seal the bag up tight and add it into the water bath. You may want to check the water temperature with a different thermometer before you cook to ensure it’s up to temp and the circulator is working properly.
Step 3: Let it Cook
Now it’s the easy part: just walk away! Depending on what meat you cook and what temperature you’re using, the time to cook will vary. The beauty of sous vide wild turkey is that you have some flexibility on time. You could cook it for as little as 45 minutes up to a few hours, and you really shouldn’t notice a huge difference in the end result. While it’s still possible to overcook meat using the sous vide method, it really is much more difficult than other cooking methods. As a general rule of thumb, the meat will be juicier and have a better texture when you cook it for less time.
Step 4: Finish it Off
When your meat comes up to a safe temperature, it’s technically done. But it won’t look very nice. Sous vide turkey will often be pale or even gray-colored, which isn’t super appealing. A great way to make it look more appetizing and add some flavor and texture is to finish it off separately. For example, you could quickly sear it on a grill or in a hot pan to add some golden-brown color and develop a crust. Michael grilled his turkey on the Hooray grill briefly to add some grill marks and get some smoky flavor in it.
The end result? Check out his family’s reaction to it and decide for yourself.
What do you think about this cooking method? Would you try to sous vide wild turkey? Besides turkey, beef steaks are a very popular meat to cook with sous vide, and venison would be excellent when prepared this way too. There’s really no limit to the number of things you can do though.