Nov 25, 2013

Roasted Turkey - Pavochon

Ok so I am back from my hiatus, just in time for my favorite dishes of the year! I will be posting recipes throughout the next couple of days since I am so late in the game and want to make sure y'all don't miss out on how a traditional Thanksgiving dinner is done back home in Puerto Rico. Let's start with the star of the show El Pavochon.  A Pavaochon is a turkey (pavo) seasoned like a Pig (lechon).  This tukey is deliciously succulent and moist! Just make sure you keep it under 14 pounds cause you risk losing moisture when the turkey is bigger.  If you need more turkey make two.  

I have had an ongoing debate with my family on whether to cook the turkey facing up or turn it midway. My family has always cooked the turkey face down for half the cooking time and then they turn it up for the remaining time. Their turkey is always delicious but it doesn't look as pretty.  I wanted my turkey to look like the ones in the magazine. So I decided to put the question to rest.  I tried cooking the turkey facing up the whole time and even lifted the turkey on the grate, so the juices and fat can drop. My turkey was nowhere near as juicy as theirs. They had a good laugh and said I was no longer allowed to cook the turkey if I was going to continue using my method.  So I compromised.  I cooked the turkey facing down for only the first hour.  This allowed the breast to absorb all those delicious juices and still allowed my turkey to look pretty.

Ok so lets get to cooking.  This marinade is all you will need to wow your guests  this holiday.  I start marinating 2 days before it actually goes in the oven.  The flat leaf herb is called recao or culantro.  It is found in spanish specialty stores.  I use this in my marinade but you can substitute it with cilantro. It is very similar, except the flat leaf has like 10 times the power.  I just love using this leaf on special occasions.
This is what your turkey should look like once it is seasoned and before it goes in the oven.  The flavors are just infused in that bird.  That's no jive turkey!  My calorie calculations are based on a 12 pound turkey which yields approximately 5 pounds of meat off the bone.


Serving Size:  20-4oz servings, Smart points: 4,  Cal: 181g, Total Fat:10g, Saturated Fat: .1g, Cholesterol: 0,  Sodium: 669.6mg, Carbs: 0,  Fiber: .2g,  Sugar: .1g,  Protein: 20g


  • 12-20 Pound Turkey
  • 3  Celery stalks chopped
  • 2  Large Carrots chopped
  • 2  Medium onions cubed
  • 1  batch Poultry seasoning 
  • 5 Culantro leaves or 1/2 cup Cilantro
  • 3 large Goya Banana Leaves 
  • 1 Cube Sofrito

  • 5 large Garlic Cloves
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin seeds (or 1 tsp ground cumin powder)
  • 1/2-1 Tbsp Peppercorns (per preference) I like pepper 😉
  • 1 Tbsp Oregano
  • 2 Tbsp Sea Salt 
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1 Tbsp Onion Powder
  • 1 Envelope Sazon (optional)
  • 1/3 Cup juice of Sour Orange or (juice of 2 limes and 1 orange)     
  • 3 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp Culantro (or Cilantro) chopped  


Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

Rinse and clean turkey. Remove neck and gizzards. Pat dry.

In a mortar and pestle mash the following ingredients: garlic, salt, peppercorns, cumin and oregano (or in a food processor).

Combine the rest of the ingredients to make a smooth paste and add olive oil, lime juice, orange juice and Culantro

Using your fingers separate the skin from the breast and gently rub the seasoning under the skin as well as the cavity of the turkey.  Rub the remainder of the seasoning all over the turkey as well as the neck, gizzards and liver.  Pay special attention to the thighs, legs and wings. Put the poultry seasoning and the extra Culantro inside the cavity along with the cube of sofrito.  Tie the legs together.  Place the turkey face down in a roasting pan, cover with plastic and refrigerate overnight or even for 2 days as I do. Use as much or as little of the seasoning as you want.  This turkey was 12 pounds but I would have used this amount on a bigger turkey too 😋

Remove turkey from the refrigerator.  Spray roasting pan with pam.  Cover the bottom of the pan with the banana leaves.  Spray the leaves with pam.  Place the turkey, breast side down in the tray.  Chop the celery, carrots and cube the onions and  add them to the tray.  Also cook the neck, giblets and liver with the turkey. Cover tightly with aluminum foil.

Cook for 1 hour, then turn turkey over and cover again. Cook for an additional 2 hours.  Uncover and cook for an additional hour.

Remove turkey from oven and let cool.  Transfer to serving tray and pour the juices and the vegetables into a separate bowl to prepare for gravy. See gravy recipe.    

1 comment: