A Wonderful Thing With Poultry Skin

Joined Oct 9, 2008
This year, I decided that I'd do some vaguely modernist things with Thanksgiving, so I did a dry run over the last few days. In short, the leg-thighs and wings were done sous-vide confit, the breasts were stuck together with transglutaminase (meat glue) and rolled tightly and sous-vide 2.5 hours at 145F (as suggested by The Food Lab's Kenji Lopez-Alt).

Both worked beautifully. Spectacular, actually, and considering that it was an el-cheapo loss-leader frozen turkey I got back in December, we were stunned. So that's all a go.

And then there was the breast skin.

You can, I gather, roll that around the breast roulade, but it looks like a considerable a-la-minute pain in the tail to get it crisp again. So I removed it.

What to do?

In Wylie Dufresne's WD-50 cookbook, I found an interesting recipe, and decided to give it a go. Here's how it works:
  1. Lay the skin outside-down, flat, on a board
  2. Dust the top with transglutaminase (he wants you to make a slurry with the other kind of transglutaminase and soak it, but I just used meat glue powder as usual)
  3. Roll tightly in plastic wrap (you want to roll it the short way, so it's as fat as possible)
  4. Poke the roll in several places with a narrow skewer and press out the excess air
  5. Roll it again in more plastic, as tight as you can
  6. Slide the roll into a heavy-duty zipper bag and seal with the water-displacement method
  7. Cook in a water bath at 194F (NOT a misprint -- 194F) for 3 hours
  8. Drop in ice water for 15 minutes, until cold, then freeze overnight
  9. Remove all the wrapping and slice very thin (he wants you to put it in a deli slicer #2)
  10. Lay the discs on a silicone mat on an inverted sheet pan, cover with a second silicone mat, and set the whole thing in a second sheet pan (I used a very cheap old sheet pan for the first one, so it fit into the second one, and that way it didn't end up dripping fat in my oven)
  11. Bake at 300F for about an hour, until crisp (he says 30 minutes to 1 hour, but I found it took an hour to get them really crispy)
  12. Sprinkle lightly with coarse salt and keep warm
This looked, on the page, like something that a home cook could not really pull off. I figured it would be OK, but we'd hold judgment in abeyance. I did it as described, and interleaved the little cookies of pure roasted skin with slices of the beautiful breast roulade.


OMG. I don't use that kind of acronym lightly, either. These things are fantastic! And if you have meat glue (I used the Moo Gloo brand, quite cheap from Amazon) and a water-bath rig, it's really very easy.

Seriously, try this. Serve a little dish of them at Thanksgiving. Betcha it doesn't make it all the way around the second time....
Joined Jun 11, 2018
Did you happen to get a picture?

I love the Food Lab (I make my employees read the chapter on burgers when they start at our restaurant.) I'll have to check out the WD-50 Cook book.
Joined Mar 21, 2008
I like to take the skin and just slice it in bite sized pieces and pan fry until crispy, lightly salt and serve as a snack!
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