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In episode 045, I interview Chelsea from A Duck's Oven blog all about how to use sous vide for Thanksgiving dinner. Learn how it can save you stress on Thanksgiving and produce amazingly tasty food, even if it's not traditional!
Here is the transcript from our interview with Chelsea from A Duck's Oven.
Eric: Welcome to Eat Shop Waste Not podcast. I'm excited today for a very special episode. We're doing an interview today with Chelsea from a Duck's oven. I've been a fan of hers as a fellow blogger. She writes some amazing stuff. She has some great cookbooks out there. But I'll let her tell you all about that. So Chelsea, welcome to the podcast.
Chelsea: I am so excited to be here today. Thank you so much for having me.
My food blog is a Duck's Oven, uh, named so, because I was a sophomore at the University of Oregon when I started my food blog. Whose mascot is the Ducks in case anybody's curious. It's a common question that I get. Um, I've been food blog for over 12 years now and my specialty. Sous Vide cooking. I love to talk about all things sous vide.
I have two sous vide cookbooks, um, and you can find all of that stuff on www.aducksoven.com
Eric: You wrote a really cool book that goes into meal prep and helping people with Sous Vide cooking. Um, so if you're into sous vide , you've got check out her books. They are awesome at that. They'd be super helpful for the new sous vide person, or if you're even an experienced person, you would get some great ideas.
Chelsea: Yeah. Thank you. Yeah, that one was super fun. I am all about bringing sous vide to home cooks. Um, we think about it as like a gadget for like experienced chefs or people who are super into like smoking and grilling and like all this stuff, but I think it's a really powerful tool, tool for home cooks too.
Eric: It totally is. Um, so how, how did you get into it yourself?
Chelsea: My mom actually gifted me my first immersion circulator. Um, I think I was like 26. And at first it was like really scary, honestly. It sat in the box for like four months and then I finally was like, You know what? Let's pull this thing out. And then I did. And I never looked back. It's been one of my favorite tools in the kitchen ever since then. But it was a little scary to get into at into at first.
Eric: Yeah. Totally like I don't, How does this work here? Like what is this thing about here? And then like once you do like, you're like, oh my gosh, like this is so amazing. Uh, what is the first thing that you cook then to sous vide?
Chelsea: I'm pretty sure it was a tri-tip steak from Costco. Like I got one of their big packs of steak and, Because that was like, That's the thing, right? Like sous vide steak. Yeah.
Eric: I have not cooked a steak without sous vide, since I tried it the first time cuz it's just, it's just so perfect. You just tell the machine I want my steak at medium, so I'll put out this exact temperature and then it's, it's medium and it is.
Chelsea: Yeah, it's amazing. It's, I don't know why you would do it any other way, like even stuff like a whole chicken now, like I just did a big thing on this, like sous vide whole chicken. That's my favorite way to do it because then you cut into it and you know it's gonna be cooked perfectly every single time. It's not like one part is gonna be raw, still on another part, overcooked.
It's just perfect.
Eric: Yeah, it's not that worry about like, Oh my gosh, is this not done? Cause I think a lot of people get scared about that, especially with chicken. Like, that's like the fear. Oh my gosh, I don't wanna serve undercook chicken. So then like, I think most people then go the other way and, and overcook it.
And it's just, then it's, you know, you're just trying to save it and get through the meal.
Chelsea: Exactly, yes. And same thing with Turkey for that matter,
Eric: Turkey, great segue. I really wanna talk about is this is about how sous vide can save your Thanksgiving. I think having a circulator is a really great tool to have at your disposal. Um, on Thanksgiving, you know, when we're all used to, you know, growing up, um, it was always about like, oh, the oven and trying to fit everything into the oven and trying to time everything.
So turkeys in the oven and the stuffings in the oven, it's like, Oh, I wanna bake rolls, but I don't have enough room so I just buy store bought rolls. Cause I can't do that because I just to have the space for it. All those type of, you know, things we're trying to shove into our ovens, but now like we've had all these different technologies that have come out and gadgets, like the Instant Pot and the air fryer and now the sous vide.
And so that's what kind of we wanna focus on today is just talking about like, what are some ideas? So like what are some things that you've cooked on Thanksgiving with the circulator?
Chelsea: Obviously the meat. Um, so I actually don't, A lot of people will actually sous vide a whole Turkey. I'm not about that, like for many, many reasons. One, I think when you do a whole bird it's better to spatchcock so it can life flat. So get a more even cook spatchcocking a turkey and then getting a bag that big
Eric: Yeah. I have like gallon size but even like the gallon signs bag is not gonna fit the Turkey.
Chelsea: No, absolutely not. And so I don't even bother with that. So my approach is to buy, uh, Turkey breasts and Turkey legs. And so I cook those separately and I treat them totally differently. And so, like the Turkey breast, I love to do essentially a roulade. So like I score the inside, I cover it in this like herby salty blend, roll it up like I put the skin back on, that.
Um, and then I will do that a day or two in advance because you can with sous vide. And then I just finish it before we serve. . And then I also do Turkey legs, and again, I treat those completely differently. This is like probably my dad's favorite thing that I do for Thanksgiving. I sous vide them for 24 hours.
I'm really going for like a confit, like fall off the bone, Turkey leg, and then I finish them by smoking them. . Um, and they are so good. And then so you get some of that kind of traditional Turkey flavor and then some like really good smoked Turkey. And those are like, I mean I do a lot of things sous vide for Thanksgiving, but those are my two go-to big crowd pleasers.
Eric: Yeah, so, So you're talking about doing a lot of the meat like kind like beforehand, then you're kind of finishing it later, so you're not even cooking the Turkey necessarily. On Thanksgiving.
Chelsea: No, it's funny actually that you say that. So the first year I did this, the first year I hosted, um, my brother-in-law heard that this is what I was gonna be doing, and he's like, so we're essentially eating leftovers on Thanksgiving, I was like, No!. This is just strategic so that I can be ready on the day of, I'm not cooking everything on the day of.
And so usually I do those like a day or two in advance and I can have like, well, if you're a little bit of a sous vide freak like I am. I've got a ton of circulators, a ton of water baths so I can have multiple going at once, getting ready for me the day, two days before I pop it in the fridge and then just finish it the day of Thanksgiving.
Eric: That's really cool being able to do something like that cuz that's like the, the big stressor for people is like, they take the Turkey and turn into like, this is like the biggest stressful thing to deal with. I mean, I love Turkey. I like Turkey better than, than chicken in most cases , You know, it doesn't have for holidays, but, um, but yeah, I think most people just, just have with that one time of year and it's like super intimidating.
But like, you know, when you break it down and you literally break it down. Do you cut 'em up the whole Turkey or you just buy them individual?
Chelsea: I buy Turkey legs and Turkey breasts and usually I have a decent time finding them at Costco. Uh, good old Costco. Um, and Butterball even has like a package that you can buy of Turkey breast. If you can, I prefer to get them skin on, um, bone in, doesn't matter.
I remove the bone because again, I do a roulade. Um, and all, both of these recipes are also on my blog if anybody is curious. But, um, and so I like skin on cuz then I wrap it back in the skin and then I finish the breast either by doing like a pan fry or throwing it in an oven just to really crisp up the skin and heat it back through before serving.
Eric: Yeah. I'm sure that's, you know, those are absolutely amazing. Um, but, so for the, you know, the people that may like, look at that and say like, you know, they're used to like the classic American photo, the turkey coming to the table.
You know what are some other things that people can do that will really kind of like save them time and help them for Thanksgiving to make it easier if they wanna still do like the Turkey, the traditional way.
Chelsea: Totally. So I love to do any, um, root vegetable sides sous vide too. I actually, I have several in my recipes in my first cookbook. Um, but that can be sweet potatoes, squash, It can just be regular mashed potatoes. And so mashed potatoes, sous vide are amazing. Um, because when you do that, you are letting the potatoes cook in butter and cream so they're not being cooked in water.
They're being actually cooked in all of that delicious dairy.
And so I love to do That,
Um, and then just mash 'em up after they're done.
Eric: Yeah when you boil them in water, you're just water logging them. You're adding water to them and that doesn't taste like anything. I've learned, like I had the initial issue of when I was trying to like cook them in that cream, I'd end up like sucking up the milk and then like making a huge mess. with my vacuum sealer
Thought of like, okay, well what if I just freeze the milk ahead of time and like put it into the freezer into cubes so that it's not just gonna start like sucking out. I know there's like vacuums out there that can handle liquids better. Mine definitely can't. Um, so that's like one tip I, I've learned to do is just kinda like freeze the dairy.
So you don't have that problem
Chelsea: Yeah, you can. And then another method that I love to do, so yeah, if you really wanna sell out the big bucks, you can get a chamber vacuum sealer, which can do liquids, but those things are expansive.
Um, but another thing that you can do is take a like zip lock, um, freezer bag. So just, you wanna make sure it's the freezer bag, cause that's what's gonna be safe to sous vide and get, so get everything in the bag.
Zip and leave like two inches, um, of the zipper undone. Hang the bag off of your counter so that the contents of the bag are just hanging off the counter. So like just the liquidy part. Um, and then the rest is like flat on the counter and slide your arm up the bag it to remove air and that totally will work
Eric: Well, that's a great idea.
Chelsea: yeah, it's a little more janky, but like if you don't have time to freeze or something like that, freezing. Freezing is definitely easier, but I've been known to do that.
Eric: Yeah. That's a great strategy. That's a great tip. Yeah, I love that. I don't know if you, like I've done like, you know, do like a higher time where I cooked the potatoes, um, kept 'em in the bag, you know, until they chilled down, then put 'em in the refrigerator, and then later on. The mashed potatoes like fresh on the day of, or also I've done through where I've made that, made the mashed potatoes completely done.
Then vacuum seal them again and put 'em in the fridge, and then Thanksgiving day, pop 'em a water bath just to warm 'em up.
Chelsea: Totally. Yeah. Or even, um, the crock pot day of like, I'll mash 'em and then throw 'em in the crock pot. And so if you really wanna combine all of your gadgets and get 'em going.
Eric: I think that besides the oven space we talked about earlier, I think that that's one of the other big challenges is trying to keep food warm on Thanksgiving. So when you have like multiple dishes going here and you're trying to get like everything done the same time, like that can be a challenge.
Um, so do you have any like tips and tricks like how to use the sous vide besides the mashed potatoes? Like to kind of like keep, you know, food warming .
Chelsea: Yeah, so, well, one thing I'll say to begin with, um, is I think we also need to embrace, like, it's okay for some things to be closer to room temperature. Like it's not the end of the world. Like if the Turkey isn't piping hot. I would rather it be like closer to room temperature than be overcooked from some kind of holding tray or something like that.
Eric: Hot gravy can be used for that too. You can heat it up hot.
Chelsea: Yes, totally. Um, but you can also totally, um, hack your sous vide like a water, like serving, like a serving tray. You see like a, a catering buffet. Um, so just get your circulator going in a bath like you normally would. This is especially helpful if you have like a square, rectangular container .
That's what I typically use. And then get one of those like foil trays. Um, you can buy those at the grocery store, just like a to go foil tray. Um, put your food in that and just kind of hang it over the top of the water bath. And that can help keep it hot and you can use the same water that you were using to cook so you don't have to waste that water.
And that's a great way to kind of keep things ready for you,
Eric: Yeah. Yeah. That's a wonderful idea.
Yeah. So that's always a huge advantage to doing that. So are some other recipes you have on your blog for Thanksgiving that people would want to check out?
Chelsea: Yeah. So I love, and I know that you love this too, to do, um, sous vide pumpkin pie.
Chelsea: uh, that's a great one. And, uh, so this sounds a little weird at first cuz you're like, what about the crust? Like, what about everything else? And so I just love to do the sous vide pumpkin pie filling. And this is like doing it sous vide again, is an amazing way to do it because you're just guaranteed it's gonna be perfect.
You're not gonna be worried about like a runny center. You're not gonna be worried about overcooking it. Like it just sous vide takes all of that stress out of the game for you. Um, and. Uh, I just do like, I make my crust and lay it flat on a baking sheet and bake it, and then I'll do like a shard of crust in each little pumpkin pie.
And then it's got like, you've got these cute little individual servings of pumpkin pie to serve and it's perfect for everybody and with some cool whip, and it's gonna be the best dang pumpkin pie you've ever tasted.
Eric: Yeah, you turn into more of like a situation like that where it's cute, you like, we've done some too where it's like we turn into a topping bar. Like I, I haven't done a pumpkin pie per se as much, but I've made like a chocolate chess pie type filling and like, and then I've given people , if it was Christmas time, smashed up candy canes or smashed up cookies, or kind of make your own little, dessert thing.
Eric: And if you really wanted to get ambitious, you know, you make the pie, make the pies ahead of time. And you could even like, you know, if you're into this, you know, um, get ribbon and tie around it like a really fun thing. And people aren't gonna be like, where the slice of pie, present them this cool, cute dessert thing.
Chelsea: Totally. Yes. I think that they're adorable. Um, and I think people really love them. And then one thing, another, this is like one, another one of my dad's favorites that I'll do is instead of pumpkin pie, I veer a little bit from the traditional and I will do a, um, pumpkin creme brule. Um, and sous vide, creme brulee is just, it's truly like one of the best things you'll ever taste.
It's delicious. Um, and so I love to do a sous vide, creme brulee, and then I'll do like the crunchy topping and everything to serve. And that's like always a huge crowd pleaser too. And that recipe is also on my blog if anybody wants it.
Eric: Yeah, that, yeah, that sounds, that sounds great.
It's like you are bragging about your sous vide skills, like, you know, making desert like that at it's shock and people are like, What?
Chelsea: Yes. Yeah, it's so fun and people like, like, I mean, it, it makes like everything that's hard to cook looks so easy. That's one of my favorite things about sous vide is always tell people you can like spend money on. That, you know, lobster or that really that prime rib, that really expensive cut of steak.
And with sous vide, you're not gonna wreck it because I think, um, people really avoid buying stuff like that cuz they don't feel like they can handle cooking it. And with sous vide it does everything for you. Same thing goes on Thanksgiving too.
Eric: Yeah. Yeah. Cause then, I mean, most of us are buying like, you know, still cheap turkeys here, you know, you know, the, the stores are not, not super expensive at all, but it's Thanksgiving day. You wanna bring your A game. You don't wanna like screw something up or be known for, you know, someone having a choking incident because your turkey is so dry.
Chelsea: Yes, exactly.
Yeah. And especially from our first time hosters out there like this really helps take the heat off of you.
Eric: Yeah. Have you ever done like the anything with the gravy via sous vide at all?
Chelsea: Oh yeah. So I will take the liquid after I've cooked my meat sous vide, so there's gonna be a lot of liquid in the bag. And that's just the liquids, just like when you cook in the oven, rendered off from the meat. Um, and that makes the best, uh, gravy, especially because that is like super, super concentrated because when you roast a bird in the oven, a bunch of that liquid is just going to evaporate in oven. With sous vide, it's all trapped in that bag. It's not going, no evaporation is happening there, so you get all of that liquid and you can make a dang good gravy.
Eric: Yeah. Yeah. So how do you normally like, um, turn out the gravy after you, you have the look at what's your, what's your method?
Chelsea: So I just do it really traditional. So I start with a roux, so just, you know, flour, butter. Um, and then once that's cooked and good to go, I just pour in literally from the bag, all those bag juices. Um, and the great thing about that, I mean, just like, you know, with roasting a chicken, it's gonna have, um, all the flavors that you season the bird with in there, it's gonna be really, really delicious. And then from there I'd just add more. I'll buy stock and add more stock as necessary. Um, you could make, obviously you could also make your own stock if you really wanted to, but at that point it, you're just kind of making sure that the quantity is high enough because you got all those good bag juices.
Eric: Yeah. I don't think anybody's ever said we had too much gravy. I mean, it's, it's one of those things where it's usually like the, thing that, that runs out first.
Eric: And so you definitely want, you know, anything you can do to kind of up that, up that flavor. Yeah, that's a great, I have not tried, doing that with the juices before.
I definitely when I do steaks, I do keep that juice here and it's amazing au jous just to, you know, dip your steak into like, I, I've done that before but I haven't done with the liquid. So I definitely need try that. Thanks for
Chelsea: Yeah, it's good for anything. Like I did a sous vide whole chicken this week and I made these like Italian beans to go with it and I saved all the liquid from the sous vide whole chicken and added it to the beans and it was like super good and gives it like that good
Eric: Oh, that's amazing.
Eric: So those are all great tips here. Um, so yeah, the sous vide is just a great way to save your Thanksgiving, literally. It saves on stress it saves, on just some timing things and kind of the whole idea like, forget about it, sort of , but in a good way.
I think like the slow cooker kind of had that kind of like, forget about type thing here, but like, I think the sous vide, has mastered that phrase for sure.
Eric: Well, thank you Chelsea. Um, so where can people find you on the internet?
Chelsea: Yeah, so you can find me on all social media platforms at @aducksoven. My current two favorites right now are Instagram and TikTok. Um, and you can also find me at aducksoven.com. All my recipes, anything that I mentioned today, you can find there. Um, and I'm also gonna be working on compiling, uh, some of my favorite Thanksgiving tips, um, into one resource on there so you can find that.
Eric: That's amazing. Awesome. And if people wanna buy your books on where, where do they find those?
Chelsea: Yeah, those can be found on Amazon and in some smaller book sellers in the Portland area, but your best bet's gonna be finding them on Amazon: Sous Vide Meal Prep, and Everyday Sous Vide.
Eric: Awesome. Thank you for chatting with me. I appreciate Chelsea.
Chelsea: Thank you so much for having me. This was great.
RELATED - How to Sous Vide for Thanksgiving
📚 Additional Resources
In this episode, we talked about how Chelsea does her turkey two ways for Thanksgiving. Here are the recipes.
We also spoke of both of us having sous pumpkin pie recipes. Here are those:
We also each have a recipe for Sous Vide Mashed Potatoes
Chelsea has two cookbooks about Sous Vide cooking that you can find on Amazon.