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Pavochón: Puerto Rican Roasted Turkey

The time is finally here. We are chatting about the one and only star of the show – The Roasted Turkey. 

The days of bland, dry turkeys are over. This is a new succulent era.

Let me introduce you to Pavochón. It’s a flavorful Puerto Rican twist on the traditional Thanksgiving turkey. This turkey is marinated and seasoned with a mixture of traditional Puerto Rican spices and flavors (say hello to a party in your mouth), creating a chef’s kiss moment. It’s savory and garlicky. The perfect balance of aromatics and acidity.  I’ll be the first to say that there will be no turning back after this. That’s a promise. 

Note that this recipe requires pre-planning so make sure to go through the entire recipe to understand the timing for defrosting, marinating, etc. 

As always, I hope that these recipes inspire you to get into the kitchen and stay curious. 

With gratitude, 

Ingredients:

For the Turkey:

  • 14 pounds of whole turkey, defrosted,neck and giblets removed, patted dry
  • 8 tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cups of water

For the Pavochón Seasoning:

  • 20 cloves of garlic
  • ½ small yellow onion
  • ⅓ cup of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of ground black pepper
  • 3 teaspoons of oregano
  • 3 teaspoons of Adobo
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 2 packets of sazón with achiote

For the Cavity:

  • 1 head of garlic
  • ½ small yellow onion
  • ½ lemon
  • ½ orange
  • ¼ cup of fresh cilantro

Method:

Prepare the Pavochón Seasoning: In a food processor, combine the garlic, half a small yellow onion, olive oil, salt, black pepper, oregano, adobo, cumin, and sazón with achiote. Blend until you have a smooth marinade.

Prepare the Turkey: Place the defrosted turkey in a large roasting pan.

Season the Turkey: Carefully separate the skin from the turkey breast without tearing it. This will create pockets for the seasoning. Rub the softened butter and Pavochón seasoning all over the turkey, including under the skin and inside the cavity, ensuring it’s evenly coated.

Season Inside the Cavity: Place a head of garlic, half a small yellow onion, half a lemon, half an orange, and fresh cilantro inside the turkey’s cavity.

Marinate Turkey: Cover the roasting pan with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, but preferably overnight, allowing the turkey to marinate and absorb the flavors. Before roasting, allow the turkey to sit at room temperature for about 1 to 1 ½ hours.

Preheat and Roast Turkey: Rearrange racks so that there is only one-third of the way down inside the oven. Then Preheat it to 450°F (232°C) and place the turkey in the large roasting pan onto the rack uncovered. Pour 1½ cups of water into the pan.

Roast Turkey: Roast the turkey at 450°F for 25–30 minutes or until the skin is browned. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F (163°C) and continue to roast the turkey until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breasts registers 160°F and the thickest part of the thighs registers 180°F. Should take roughly 3-4 hours. Baste the turkey with pan juices every 30 minutes. Rotate the pan if browning unevenly.

Rest and Carve: Transfer the turkey to a cutting board and let it rest for 30–50 minutes before carving.

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