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.
Wow, mi gente! I cannot believe it, it’s almost Thanksgiving! This time of year makes me especially 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 is Pavochon?
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!
How Do You Make Pavochon?
Just like Puerto Rican Roast Pork Shoulder (Pernil), pavochon features a robust marinade of garlic, oregano, black pepper, olive oil and vinegar. To add a delicious golden color to the turkey, I also add organic Sazon and organic Adobo from Loisa (get 15% off with my coupon code “delish”). First, you take a whole bunch of peeled garlic and mash it with a wooden pilón (mortar and pestle). The goal is to make the garlic into a paste and extra all of the fragrant oils. Then you mix in your seasonings, olive oil and vinegar, and slather the turkey all over with this potent mix. Allow the turkey to marinate overnight, and then roast it for 15 minutes per pound, or until the breast reaches 160F and the thigh is at 180F.
What Can You Serve With Pavochon?
If you’re in the mood to take Thanksgiving to the next level, try 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! For an authentic Puerto Rican holiday meal, browse our other essential Puerto Rican Thanksgiving recipes!
Essential Puerto Rican Thanksgiving Recipes:
- Puerto Rican Chicken Empanadas (Empanadillas de Pollo)
- Pollo En Escabeche (Puerto Rican Pickled Chicken)
- Ensalada de Pulpo (Octopus Salad)
- Salami, Guava & Cheese Appetizer (Entremeses Tipicos)
- Pizza Empanadas (Empanadillas De Pizza)
Main Dishes & Sides
- Arroz Con Gandules (Puerto Rican Rice with Pigeon Peas)
- Slow Cooker Pernil (Puerto Rican Roasted Pork Shoulder)
- Puerto Rican Pasteles De Yuca
- Pastelón (Sweet Plantain Lasagna)
- Habichuelas Guisadas (Puerto Rican Stewed Beans)
- Asopao De Pollo (Puerto Rican Chicken & Rice Gumbo)
- Coconut Cream Cheese Flan (Flan De Coco)
- Budin (Puerto Rican Bread Pudding)
- Natilla (Puerto Rican Custard Dessert)
- Mantecaditos (Puerto Rican Guava Thumbprint Cookies)
- Pastelitos De Guayaba Y Queso (Guava and Cheese Puff Pastries)
- Coquito (Puerto Rican Coconut Rum Drink, Egg-Free)
- Arroz Con Dulce (Puerto Rican Coconut Rice Pudding)
- Chewy Coquito Cookies (Puerto Rican Eggnog)
Pavochon: Thanksgiving Turkey Puerto Rican Style
Thanksgiving Turkey, Puerto Rican Style
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.
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. If you notice the breast getting too browned, you can cover the breast with foil.
Cook for 15 minutes per pound, until a meat thermometer reads 160F in the breast and 180F in the thigh, basting occasionally. This should take about 3-4 hours, depending on the size of your turkey.