What follows is a description of the absolute easiest way to make a gourmet Thanksgiving meal. I love an involved, complicated, multi-day recipe, but it has been brought to my attention that not everyone feels the way that I do about cooking. And for many of those people, Thanksgiving is the most intimidating holiday of the year. To fix that, we’ve used the power of sous vide cooking to create the easiest and least-time consuming set of instructions that will (seemingly) magically yield an incredible meal. Best of all, you’ll still impress those of us who love nothing more than to spend their whole day cooking.
Without further ado, here are your day-by-day instructions for serving turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie for 5 people at 4 o’clock on Thursday afternoon:
Check your pantry for the items below. Go buy whatever you are missing:
A few sticks of butter
15oz can pumpkin puree
A bag of cranberries
Ground cinnamon, ground allspice, ground cloves, ground ginger, ground nutmeg
1 packet unflavored gelatin
Heavy whipping cream
A pie crust of your choice (I like graham cracker)
Once you have everything listed above, use a knife to butcher the turkey into 2 skin-on breasts, 2 skin-on bone-in legs, and 2 skin-on bone-in breasts. Place the pieces into a Vac-Snap bag. Then make a 6% brine and add to the bag. Make sure there is enough to submerge the turkey. Place the bag in the fridge and leave it there until Thursday.
Then take the turkey carcass, neck, and all the included offal except the livers and put it all in a roasting pan. Preheat the oven to 425F and place roasting pan in the oven once it gets up to temperature. Leave it in there for about 15 minutes, or until the contents are browned. Then put it all in your Smart Hub and add enough water to cover all the turkey. Add in a few crushed cloves of garlic and set your Smart Hub to 185, cover with lid, and cook for 24 hours.
Strain the turkey from the broth. Throw out the solids and store broth in the refrigerator. We’ll be using it on Thursday to make gravy.
On Wednesday we’re going to make the pumpkin pie filling so that the pie can set overnight in the refrigerator.
Start by filling the Smart Hub with water and set to 185ºF. In a small bowl, combine about half a cup of cream and a packet of gelatin—heat until warm in microwave and whisk to combine. Then pour the gelatin and cream mixture, 2 eggs yolks, one whole egg, 1.5 tbls of cinnamon, 2 tsp allspice, 1 tsp cloves, ½ tsp nutmeg, 2 tsp ground ginger, and another half cup of cream into a Vac-Snap bag, close bag top while leaving some air trapped and shake to combine. Once combined, remove as much air as possible and place bag in Smart Hub for 1 hour. After 1 hour, remove bag and pour into pie crust and place it into the refrigerator. It will set overnight and be ready to serve straight from the refrigerator.
At 10:30 AM, set your Smart Hub to 194F. While it heats up, place cranberries, ¾ cups of sugar, and a strip of lemon zest into a Vac-Snap bag. This will be your cranberry sauce.
After you’ve combined the sauce ingredients, chop your potatoes into about half inch pieces. Place those pieces in a Vac-Snap bag with about ½ stick of butter.
At this point your Smart Hub should be up to temperature and you can add both bags to the water. Let them cook for about 1.5 hours. While the cranberry sauce and potatoes cook, remove your turkey from the brine, rinse under the sink, pat dry, and then place the light meat and dark meat in separate Vac-Snap bags. Add a few pats of butter to each, vacuum, and then return to the refrigerator.
Once the potatoes and cranberry sauce have cooked for an hour and half, remove them from the Smart Hub. The cranberry sauce can be transferred to a serving bowl and chilled if you want to serve it cold. We’ll finish the potatoes while the turkey cooks. To start the turkey, replace the water in the top and set the Smart Hub to 150F. Once it reaches temperature, add the turkey to the bath. After one and a half hours, remove the light meat and after three hours, remove the rest. Set your oven to broil and place the turkey in the oven skin side up. Remove once browned, which should be about 5 minutes.
While the turkey cooks, we’ll mash the cooked potatoes and make our gravy. To mash the potatoes, leave them in the bag and push on them with your palms. Cover with a dish towel if the bag is still too hot to touch directly. Once they are adequately mashed, transfer them to a bowl. Stir in sour cream and scallions if desired.
To make the gravy, begin by reducing the stock you already made in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Once it has been reduced to about ¼ of its original volume, remove from heat. In another saucepan, heat about 4 tbls of butter. Once heated, add about 4tbls of flour and stir constantly until flour has browned. Then mix in the reduced stock and transfer to a serving bowl.
That’s it! Put everything in the middle of a table and Thanksgiving dinner is served!
See the links to the individual recipes below: