Pavochon (Thanksgiving Turkey Puerto Rican Style) is a whole turkey that’s seasoned and cooked like Puerto Rican roast pork! It’s garlicky, herbaceous, and just plain, freaking delicious.
Holy holidays, Batman! It’s almost Thanksgiving! This time of year especially makes me grateful for my Puerto Rican heritage. The holiday season is an opportunity for my family to gather around delicious food that is rich in tradition, history, and FLAVOR! The star of our Thanksgiving dinner table has always been, and will always be pavochon. What’s that, you ask?
Well, it’s really a made up word, or portmanteau, that combines the Spanish words for turkey (pavo) & roast suckling pig (lechon). So pavochon is turkey that’s been seasoned and cooked like Puerto Rican roast pork, AKA pernil. Also known as the holy grail of Thanksgiving dinner. Pavochon is garlicky, herbaceous, juicy, tender and just plain, freaking delicious. As you may well have experienced, turkey is one of those meats that really needs a ton of flavor before it can shine. This marinade technique does just that, and more! It’s packed with Latin flavors and spices that result in the most delicious turkey you’ve ever had. Once you have pavochon, you’ll never go back to making a regular turkey again!
Serve this Puerto Rican-style turkey with some traditional Puerto Rican holiday sides, like arroz con gandules, avocado, tostones and maybe even some pasteles! I guarantee that once you try this way of making Thanksgiving turkey, no other recipe will even come close.
If you’re in the mood to take Thanksgiving to the next level with my mofongo stuffed turkey recipe! Yup, you heard that right! Forget plain old stuffing, we’re stuffing this bad boy with Puerto Rican style mofongo!
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Pavochon: Thanksgiving Turkey Puerto Rican Style
Thanksgiving Turkey, Puerto Rican Style
- 1 whole turkey 12-16 lbs, thawed and giblets removed
- 24 cloves of garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons Adobo All Purpose seasoning recommended: Goya
- 6 teaspoons Sazon seasoning (3 packets) recommended: Goya
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons white vinegar
Defrost the turkey according to the package instructions, remove the giblets and pat it dry. Place the turkey in a non-reactive container or extra large ziptop bag.
Mince up the garlic cloves in a mortar and pestle, or food processor. Add in the Adobo, Sazon, pepper, oregano, olive oil and vinegar. Stir to combine.
Using your fingers, gently separate the skin from the meat. Be gentle, so you don’t tear the skin up too much. Flip the turkey over, and do the same thing on the other side. Spread half of the mixture underneath the skin on the back side of the turkey. Do the same thing on the breast side of the turkey. Lastly, sprinkle the outside of the bird with a liberal amount of Adobo (2 teaspoons).
Cover the turkey and marinate for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight.
When you’re ready to cook the turkey, preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Place the turkey breast side up on a roasting pan fitted with a roasting rack. Don’t cover the turkey with foil, otherwise it won’t brown.
Cook until a meat thermometer reads 165F, basting occasionally. This should take about 3-4 hours, depending on the size of your turkey.