Home Cooked

Sous Vide turduckloin and a Christmas dinner

During christmas of 2010, I made a sous vide beef wellington with duck fat mashed potatoes for my family, a year later, I had the ridiculous and ambitious idea of cooking a christmas feast for a bunch of friends. I have had it in my mind to make a sous vide version of the turducken for quite some time, but I never got around to doing it, Christmas seemed to be a perfect excuse to cook it, seeing as to how I would need an army to finish the beast. But because I have a strong inability to follow recipes word for word- I often try to add in some component that will make it a little more challenging, I eventually settled on stuffing a beef tenderloin in a chicken in a duck in a turkey, oh, and of course, there would have to be bacon in there somewhere.

First try with meat glue. No bueno

String fixes everything, trust me, Im an engineer 

Figuring out the turduckenloin was a lot more complex than I thought. I wanted to cook as many components using sous vide as possible. After thinking long and hard about it, doing mini experiments- including one with meat glue, my final plan would be- starting from the inside out, I would sous vide the beef medium rare, sear it, and then freeze it. After which I would sew(meat glue just wasn’t strong enough) the chicken around the tenderloin, sous vide the chicken to about 62C, freeze the chicken/tenderloin, then sew it into the duck, sous vide the duck to 60C, then immediately wrap it in a crisp bacon wave and sew the duck/chicken/tenderloin into a turkey, before finally roasting it in an oven. This would mean that the oven only needs to cook the turkey, not the duck layer onwards, making sure that most components would remain moist and evenly cooked. If course, this was only the plan I had for the dish, there would be many issues I did not and could not forsee.

 Baconga Veneta Fall/Winter 2011

I’m on PETA’s most wanted list

Since I had made the offer to cook for everyone, I needed other dishes for the feast as well. About a month before Christmas, I decided on four: The turduckenloin, sous vide beef shortrib tacos(with grilled corn salsa), macaroni and cheese topped with pulled pork, and brownies. This was going to be quite a huge task, on top of that, I am in no way ‘organized’ in the kitchen, which is somewhat embarrassing considering that I am an engineer and people have this impression that I am very methodological(sorry to disappoint). I often have 4-5 different things running around in my head at the same time and I knew that I would be restricted by equipment- I have one oven that barely fit the turkey I bought, and the container I use to Sous Vide can only hold the size of a duck, figuring out how I would put out 4 warm dishes at the same time was going to be a challenge.  Hence, for the first time since starting cooking, I worked out a timeline that i needed to follow to make sure that the food would go out as planned


Buy ingredients(Short Ribs, turkey, etc)

Prepare reduced red wine sauce(mirepoix, bouquet garni, red wine, worcheshire sauce, BBQ sauce, green tea powder, liquid smoke, cumin, thyme, garlic), then freeze


begin defrosting turkey

Dust shortribs with cumin, salt, pepper, paprika, Mexican oregano, vacuum seal with frozen red wine sauce. Cook at 71.2C for 2 days


Remove shortribs and slice thinly, place into ziploc bag with some residual sauce and rapid chill. Then freeze


Purchase pork shoulder and misc other things

Purchase beef tenderloin, season with olive oil + beef stock cube, vacuum seal and cook at 56C for 2 hours. Then remove, pay dry, sear over high heat in garlic/thyme olive oil. Let rest, place in sous vide bag, seal, rapid chill and freeze

Debone entire turkey, reserve bones, freeze meat


Coat pork shoulder in flour, salt, brown sugar, sear in truffle oil

Braise pork shoulder (130C for 4 hours) in mushroom stock and root beer, with fennel, onion, star anise, brown sugar, bouquet garni, button mushrooms, carrots, stock cube. Remove, shred, freeze with some reduced braising liquid


Collect chicken and duck

Debone both birds, reserve bones. Place frozen tenderloin in deboned chicken, meat glue and sew shut. Chill overnight

Begin defrosting turkey in the fridge


Roast chicken bones, pressure cook to create stock. Reduce stuck to intensify it. Then chill

Make brine for the turkey, let it chill


Sous vide the chicken and tenderloin, drain liquid, then rapid chill and place in fridge

Meat glue duck, sew shut

Make brownie batter, place in fridge

Cook stuffing

Grill corn, mix in mint, chill

Brine the turkey in an orange scented brine


sous vide duck,chicken,tenderloin

Bake brownies(might need to move to Sunday)

Make bacon weave

Reheat stuffing

Cook Mac and cheese

Butter Breadcrumbs

Reheat shortribs and pulled pork

Combine bacon weave, stuffing, duck/chicken/tenderloin with the turkey, begin roasting

Finish Mac and cheese w pulled pork

Pulled pork on Mac and Cheese

This dish had alot of ‘firsts’ for me. 2 weeks prior to cooking the meal, I had never deboned a chicken in my life. I had broken down a few chickens(Breaking down: Separating the legs from the breast etc, Deboning: removing all the bone and leaving the meat as a single flat sheet), but never deboned. By Christmas, I had deboned enough chickens to the point where I felt I could debone a chicken blindfolded, hanging upside down and doing sit-ups. And since birds more or less have the same anatomy, I should, in theory, be able to debone the turkey easily, right? Wrong. Nothing could have prepared me for the scumbag that is turkey. Firstly, I bought a giant turkey, weighing in at a good 9lbs, the wing alone was a size of a huge chicken drumstick. When trying to separate the legs or thighs from the carcass, a chefs knife will easily cut through a chicken bone if you don’t hit  the joint at the right  point, but no such luck with a turkey, it’s bones are made of pure titanium and you really have to go at it with a snipers precision, right at its archillis heel(insert the knife between the two bones and wiggle, this point is alot harder to find on a turkey than it sounds) to separate it. This condensed video is about 45 minutes worth of me deboning this monster.

Roasted bones + water = Delicious stock

I’m not gonna write down the full recipe because alot of it was jus adapting and trying to deal with the countless problems I encountered, plus I really wouldn’t wish making this on my worst enemy. The first was discovering that the chicken  I had ordered  was not big enough to sew around the tenderloin that was already cooked, I recalled seeing some much bigger chickens at a nearby supermarket, but the store had already closed by that time, and I was already behind schedule, so I made a quick decision to invert the duck and chicken, the tenderloin would be covered with the duck and I would get a bigger chicken around that.

This monster broke my oven. True story

The duck came out beautifully, and when I begun sewing the chicken around it, of course, I realised it wouldn’t fit. I had a chicken that covered about 3/4 of my duck and I was just staring blankly at it trying to figure out how I managed to convince myself that a duck would fit into a chicken , I suddenly had a eureka moment- why not buy another chicken and  use both chickens to cover the duck?  I seemed to make sense in my head, so out I went to get another chicken, and on it went over the duck. I must have spent a good 45 mins trying to work it out before deciding that if there was ever a time to call it quits, this was it.  I ended up filled the  inside of the turkey with cornbread stuffing, sautéed sausages, fried rice, and two bacon weaves , before roasting the turkey to about 65C.

The works

So how was it? It was good, very impressive for everyone at the table when you cut it into it. But was it worth the effort? Hell no it wasn’t. It’s like a mash up of the bee gees and daft punk, both great on its own, but not so much when combined together(Im waiting for someone to prove me wrong and ruin this analogy).  I’m still glad I  attempted this and sort of managed to pull it off. I wonder what I’ll be making this christmas…

Appetizing-looking food is vastly overrated

PS I sewed the two chickens together with a bunch of leftover stuffing to form some kind of franken-chicken and grilled it. It wasnt pretty but turned out pretty nicely

Frankenchicken. Pretty sure this is one of Neil Gaiman’s characters in his version of hell

Home Cooked

Home Cooked: Momofuku Chicken and Egg

I’m not even going to crack and ‘which came first’ jokes, because this dish is relatively simple and everyone should try it to fully understand how delicious it truly is. Flipping through the Momofuku cookbook, there were several recipes that I immediately thought to myself, “Wow that looks good, I have to try that ASAP”, and this dish was right up there at the top.

Chicken, post cooking, swimming in golden deliciousness


Prepare Brine: 1 Cup Sugar, 1 Cup salt, 8 cups water

Brine Chicken thighs(Bone removed, Skin on), for 1-6 hours

-Put chicken thighs in an oven safe container, cover with either pork or duck fat(I used duck), and add in a few pieces of smoky bacon (Key word: Smoky)

-Leave in the oven at 80C for 50 minutes.

-Heat a skillet, oil it, then lay the chicken thigh down, skin side first. Press the chicken down with a heavy pan(to keep it flat so that the skin browns evenly)

-Let it crisp for 3-4 minutes, remove immediately

-Serve with Sous vide egg(54C for 1 hr), and quick pickled cucumbers

Meat can also be refrigerated for up to a week after cooking


Meat was delicious, the brine brought out the natural sweetness of the chicken, with a tinge of smokyness from the bacon. Cooking the meat confit style gave the chicken an unctuous mouthfeel, yet despite this, it wasn’t too heavy, something you could eat alot of(well, I could). The rich, creamy yolk of the sous vide egg is nicely balanced by the quick pickled cucumbers. I topped it off with some of Momofuku’s ‘Octo Vin’ sauce, which when eaten together with the chicken, gave it a sudden burst of freshness and acidity. I’m also convinced that there are not alot of things that the Octo Vin sauce don’t go well with, but thats another story.


There isn’t much to say because truthfully, there aren’t alot of things I dislike about it. It should be noted that all bones should be carefully removed from the thigh to ensure that the meat is cooked evenly. Because it is cooked at a fairly low temperature and I had a piece of chicken that had a small bone stuck in it, when I cut into it, it was quite bloody in that area. Proper technique should also be used to get the skin really nice and crisp (Heavy Iron skillet, high heat, weighed down)


One of the first thoughts that ran through my head was how to turn this into a sous vide recipe. I dont think it would be that difficult, and it would save on a lot of fat. Smokyness could either be incorporated into the chicken by adding liquid smoke to the brine, or heating the duck fat then placing smoky bacon into it, and allowing it to infuse in the fat, before vacuum sealing with the chicken. Other flavours could possibly be infused into the chicken, but I think this is simple comfort food at its best.


Home Cooked

Home Cooked: Sous Vide Chicken Breast with Truffles 61.5C for 90 mins

This is inspired by a dish served at Eleven Madison Park in New York. I knew way before I got my immersion circulator, during the days when I used a rice cooker to cook sous vide, that chicken breast was one of the meats that really benefits from sous vide cooking (Even though I didn’t give it enough time during my first attempt and parts of it were inedible) I recently saw a video of chef Daniel Humm preparing chicken breast sous vide, and I immediately put it on my “to-sous-vide” list.


– Shave truffles into thin slivers

– Use your finger to gently separate the skin from the breast meat, but stop pulling when you reach the center so that the skin stays connected to the breast

– Place a layer of truffles in between this pocket of space between the skin and the breast, do this for both breasts, thats what she said.

– Slice a knob of butter and place it on top of the truffles, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper (Just sprinkle onto the truffle/butter)

– Flip the breast over, season the meat with salt and black pepper again, coat with a thin layer of herbs, I used rosemary and thyme

-Place the breast on a piece of cling film and roll to form a roulade, the cling film I used wasn’t big enough and I had to use two pieces, no biggie

– Let the chicken sit in the fridge overnight, then vacuum seal the whole thing(with cling film) in a vacuum bag

– Cook in a water bath at 61.5C for 90 mins

Pros: I had high expectations for this, and I wasn’t disappointed. Easily one of the moistest breasts I’ve had(At least 25% of the content in this post is probably illegal in some countries), an instant hit with everyone at the table. Meat was well seasoned, herbs really shone through, and the truffles added a nice subtle earthy-ness to the dish. With something cooked sous vide like salmon, for example, the meat achieves a completely different texture- its pretty close to sashimi, and yet the meat still flakes, something that completely defies logic, and not everyone can appreciate this seemingly new texture. But chicken breast is one of the meats that is hard to argue against doing sous vide(I may have confused myself with this double negative), the product is just incredibly moist and meat isn’t stringy, it isn’t something that you can achieve with traditional cooking methods.

Cons: I can’t think of any issues with the meat, but the truffles I used were the size of grapes and were pretty cheap, you get what you pay for, because it didn’t flavour the meat as much as I thought it would. Ideally, when you slice across the roulade, you get a nice circular chicken breast, a contrasting outer layer of black truffle, and the (almost) invisible chicken skin; all that was lost because the truffle I used was already physically handicapped, and I had also sliced them very thinly, a thicker truffle would have added some visual appeal to the dish

Thoughts: I had actually wanted to use a lower temperature, I know Heston Blumenthal uses 60C for chicken breasts, but I was in a rush and decided to increase the temperature, plus I had no idea how long I was supposed to cook them for. Would 1.5C make much difference? That’s something I definitely want to find out, maybe the next time I get my hand on some  fresh truffles….