Soud Vide Turkey Breast Buffet

I would like to Sous Vide a 3.4kg turkey breast buffet which we can buy here from from most major supermarkets. I do my chicken breasts at 62c and I guess turkey done at that temp would be ok. The only thing I’m unsure about is how many hours this would take.Any helpful advice would be much appreciated.

Trab, we’ve been through this before. Have you forgotten so soon that thickness is always critical to your SV cooking times? That’s a big piece of meat and it will need some serious cooking. You are very economical with details and that makes it difficult to provide you with precise advice.

You shouldn’t have to guess as to temperature. If you enjoy chicken breasts cooked at 62ᴼC cook your Turkey Breast Buffet, whatever that is, at your temperature of choice for white poultry meat.

How many hours?
You are likely unsure of the cooking time because turkeys are made in a variety of sizes that naturally influence cooking times. You can check Douglas Baldwin’s Table 4.1, thickness based SV cooking times, or guess.

Hi chatnoir, a turkey buffet is quite common in Australia and it is basically a whole turkey with legs and wings removed so at 3.4kg is quite large. Using suggested times for whole a turkey would probably be too long as legs take longer than breast.

G’Day Trab, please help me understand you.

I was thinking of a whole Roast Turkey that i used to prepare for buffet-style service for a group of guests. It was entirely de-boned by working from the inside so the skin would be intact for service. Then carefully roasted to develop a beautifully crisp skin. It was sliced in front of the guests. But that menu item would be inappropriate for SV cooking unless it’s a small turkey.

Is your Turkey Buffet boneless?
When you remove the legs and wings from a turkey in my culinary understanding what remains is a whole turkey breast. Cooking a whole turkey breast using the SV technique can be difficult due to the thickness. If it’s more than 3-inches or 70 mm thick at it’s greatest dimension it’s too large for SV.

And where do you get the idea that turkey legs take longer to cook than the breasts? They shouldn’t need a longer time unless you are cooking the legs at a significantly lower temperature than the breasts and that’s quite unusual. Most cooks i know do the dark meat at a higher temperature.

G’day again,
No the turkey buffet still has bones and the link will give you an idea of what it looks like. So it is basically a complete turkey with legs and wings and backbone removed. Only the top bone of the leg remains and this helps it stand upright in a roasting tray. As mentioned earlier it weighs 3.4kg and I would think it would be thicker than 70cm at it’s thickest. I have done roasted turkeys at Xmas over the years with mixed results so I thought this year I would try the sous vide. I’m happy with 62C temp but unsure about the time.

Hey Trab, how are you doing?

I hate to inform you, but i have the distinct feeling you are aiming to sustain your run of mixed results with your planned SV Buffet Turkey.

That’s for several reasons. First consider your victim. Turkeys walk around for most of their lives so they have well developed legs ( = tough) and large but weak breasts (= tender). You’re SV challenge lies in attempting to cook together a mix of tough and tender meat without sustaining your outcome of mixed results. It can’t happen. Leg meat is best SV cooked at 72ᴼC for tenderness, but the breast meat will be sadly overdone at that temperature.

Next, that hunk of poultry is too large for most SV bags and too thick to cook at your planned temperature in a safe length of time. I always treat poultry as a highly Salmonella contaminated product that requires complete cooking.

Have you considered brining the turkey and cooking it conventionally? I would.

G’day Frank,

Thanks for all your input it’s much appreciated. I’ve finally found a way to cook my buffet turkey breast as per the link and this is exactly like the one I want to cook. So you have a great Xmas.

A whole turkey breast, 130F for 3 hours?

I will await comment from those that can explain better.

Please read Baldwin.

G’Day Mate, i appreciate your Xmas wishes. Thank you.

It appears we have divergent ideas of the term exactly.
The challenging thighs are MIA on Becky’s bird, lucky for her.

Are you really intending to serve your guests soft, pink, wet meat? You’ve served it before that way and they have previously eaten and enjoyed it. Right?
You are serving some amazingly docile guests sir.
Plus, it’s meat potentially dangerous to their health? Please consider at least cooking to achieve Pasteurization for their safety and that will be considerably longer than her 3 hours for perfection.

What’s your plan for dealing with the bird’s cavity? She left that part out of her script along with a somewhat precise formula for the brine. At her low cooking temperature the turkey’s interior temperature will be in the Food Temperature Danger Zone for a lot longer than i would like to contemplate.

Here’s how this cat cooks a turkey, usually a few days in advance of service to make it a relaxed event for everyone.

Start with one suitably sized whole turkey. I always buy extra thighs as my mob enjoys at least twice as much dark meat as white.

First, the skin gets removed from the breasts and retained for crisping in the oven, destined to be used as parts of plate garnishes or treats for the cook’s helpers.

Then turkey gets broken down and separated according to colour and use. The neck, wings, and back are assigned to the stock pot. Browning is optional but highly recommended for enhanced colour and flavour. Brining the parts too be SV cooked before packaging results in a more delicious outcome.

If not brining i remove the breast halves from the bones and vacuum seal for cooking at 62ᴼC. I bag the thighs for cooking separately from the lower legs as they will retained after cooking at 72ᴼC for uses to be determined. I am positively evangelical about deeply ice-bath chilling before refrigerated holding.

On day of service the bags of turkey components are heated in a 60ᴼC bath. Then the usual SV preservice rituals are duly performed and the meat is attractively arranged on a platter.

The significant benefit of employing boneless turkey breasts is it enables the cook to uniformly slice and layer the meat around the dark meat in the centre of the platter for a pleasing presentation.

Maybe for next year?

Stay safe and keep well.

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Take Chatnoir and other’s advice and do a conventional roast. I actually do a “high heat turkey roast” for a partner who likes steak very rare and poultry very well done. :grinning:

Sous vide is just a tool. And like any tool, it should “best tool for the job.”

Be kind, be calm, stay safe…

Got it?


Have a safe, enjoyable Christmas

Seems contributors here very seldom use a sous vide temperature probe. Probes do tend to take guesswork out of the equation - at least as to when the thickest part of the cooking meat has reached target temperature. It’s then a quibble about how long to hold that temperature - for poultry probably no more than 45 mins or so. Here Sous vide in the combi oven or a water bath is always monitored by a probe.

It’s too late I know - but probably the effective thickness of the Turkey Breast Buffet is assessed as being from the outside of the turkey to the inside cavity which itself if full of water at temperature. And generally Turkeys in Australia are smaller than their North American cousins.

Hey Fennec, your input is appreciated on this complex matter. For me whole poultry is the one time active temperature monitoring would be useful because it’s so difficult to judge cavity temperature in a sealed bird. This cat just doesn’t ever SV cook whole turkeys, just the parts separately.

You don’t comment on cooking the dark meat as shown at the Peter Bouchier turkey link above. Do you monitor both white and dark meat? Or are you smartly just cooking the breast meat?

Just one type of meat per bag - really not a huge fan of a whopping big dead bird on the table anyway.
In truth even the turkey legs - leg bone is connect to the thigh bone muscles, sinews and the lot - are potentially gut-wrenching-unappealing. Not that I’ve done it but if presented with the absolute need for all the leg meat would probably do a bit of dissecting out of individual muscles and thigh meat trim it all up before cooking, remove all those bits no one actually enjoys eating and do a version of a sous vide braise. Work out what to do with the bones and skin.
Honour the entire bird but present a variety of tastes and textures

Agreed Fennec, appropriately cooked and carefully sliced whole muscles result in a superior table presentation facilitating ease of service.

Honour the backbone, neck, rib cage, wing tips, skin, with other bones and bits along with chopped aromatics to produce a luxurious stock for gravy or soup, - perhaps a superb New Orleans-style Turkey Tettrazini.