The Perfectionist's Thanksgiving

See Also
The Feasts: Holiday Banquets to the Nth Degree
  Breast of Four Corners Farm’s Turkey ‘Cuit Sous Vide’ and Roasted Leg ‘en Ballotine’

The Chef
Thomas Keller of Per Se

8 people

18-to-20-pound free-range turkey, preferably from Four Corners Farm
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
4 ounces foie gras
3 tablespoons butter
¼ head shredded Savoy cabbage
½ cup 1/2-inch diced brioche bread
4 tablespoons foie gras fat (available at D’Artagnan; butter can be substituted)
10 peeled roasted chestnuts, diced
1 egg
1 tablespoon chopped chives
2 tablespoons reduced chicken stock
Bell’s Seasoning, to taste
Caul, to wrap leg (or butcher string) 
3 tablespoons canola oil
5 sprigs each of thyme and sage
2 cloves garlic
1 sprig rosemary

Cooking Instructions
Remove turkey breast and legs from the carcass and bone out the legs, leaving the skin intact. Reserve the bones for the stock. Place the meat from the legs flat onto a sheet of plastic wrap, cut the oyster from the edge of the meat and place in the hole in the center, remove any veins, and cover with another sheet of plastic wrap. Beat with a mallet to even out the meat. Trim the meat into a rectangle, reserving trimmings for stock, and season with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Set the foie gras in a small ovenproof skillet and roast for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove and let cool. Set in the freezer to harden, then cut into a 1/4-inch dice. Reserve the foie gras fat in the pan for the croutons. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in an ovenproof skillet until the butter starts to brown, add the cabbage, and toss to coat. Roast in the oven for about 10 minutes or until the cabbage starts to caramelize around the edges. Toss the diced brioche with 1 tablespoon of foie gras fat, set the brioche on a baking sheet, and toast in the oven for about 5 minutes or until crisp and lightly golden.

Combine the diced foie gras, cabbage, croutons, chestnuts, egg, and chives in a bowl. Stir in 2 tablespoons of foie gras fat and the stock. Season with salt, pepper, and Bell’s Seasoning. Place half the stuffing down the center of each portion of leg meat, roll the meat tightly, and wrap in caul or tie with butcher string at 1-inch intervals. Season each leg with salt and pepper, and brush with foie gras fat.

Increase the oven to 400 degrees. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in an ovenproof skillet, add the stuffed turkey legs, and quickly brown on all sides before setting in the oven and roasting for about 25 minutes. Allow to rest for 5 minutes. 

Meanwhile, take one half of the turkey breast, season with salt and pepper, lay it skin-side down, and brush the flesh side with foie gras fat. Alternate with 2 sprigs sage and 2 sprigs thyme across the breast, and nestle a clove of garlic in the center. Cut a sheet of cardboard the length and width of the breast, cover with foil, and set the breast bone-side down on the board (this will stop the bones from piercing the plastic bag). Place the whole thing in a heavy plastic bag and seal in a vacuum-seal machine. Repeat with the remaining half breast. If you do not have a vacuum-seal machine, the breast must be boned and prepared as above, and then rolled skin-side out. Lay out a 24-inch-wide square of plastic wrap. Set the breast at one end and roll the plastic wrap as tightly as possible around the breast. Twist the ends to tighten the package and tie a knot at each end of the plastic wrap, as close to the meat as possible, so the package is airtight.

Fill a large casserole or deep roasting pan with water and heat the water to 164 degrees. Place the two vacuum-sealed turkey breasts in the water and cook gently for 30 minutes. Make sure to maintain the water temperature at 164 degrees by keeping a thermometer in the water. If the water gets too hot, add more cold water; if it goes below 164 degrees, increase the heat. Remove the vacuum-sealed breasts from the water and allow to rest for 5 minutes.  

Remove the breasts from the bags, discard the herbs, and dry the skin with a paper towel. Season the breasts with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, add the breasts, and gently brown the skin and finish any cooking if necessary. Add a sprig each of thyme, sage, and rosemary to the pan along with 2 tablespoons butter. Brown the butter and baste the turkey breasts, turning occasionally. Leave the turkey to rest for 5 minutes, before slicing.

Best With
Suggested Menu: sunchoke soup with virginia-ham croquettes; virginia-ham croquettes; breast of four corners farm's turkey "cuit sous vide" and roasted leg "en ballotine"; giblet gravy; green-bean casserole: Oven-baked haricots verts with cream of california cepe mushroom and crispy shallots; garnet sweet-potato mille-feuille with white-truffle royale and shaved truffles from alba; Waldorf-salad stuffing; pecan pie with whipped cream; caramel popcorn.

To Drink: Weinbach 2002 Gewurztraminer Cuvee Theo; Alsace, France ($40). This dry Alsatian Gewurztraminer has a medium to full body but finishes dry and spicy. It works with the diverse flavors of the turkey and accompaniments.

Photograph by Reinhard Hunger