Thanksgiving: Pavochon and My Mami’s Stuffing

PavoChon recipe has be updated and revamped.  See it here! It’s kind of awesome!


I will be in the mid-west this Thanksgiving. Attending and helping with a traditional all American Thanksgiving with LB and JT and their family. I myself haven’t cooked a full Thanksgiving meal since 2001.  However I thought that you may be interested to know what you would find on a Puerto Rican Thanksgiving table.

First let me say that I myself have not prepared these recipes in a long, long time and had to contact my Mami to get the recipes.  My mom is a true “eyeball it” cook so the stuffing recipe below are my mother’s approximations.

Let’s start with the bird first.  In the states the bird is usually seasoned with salt, pepper and sage and rubbed down with butter.  A popular way to prepare turkey in PR is to make pavochon. The idea is to prepare the turkey like you would a roasted pig. Hence the name pavochon, a combination of pavo (turkey) and lechon (pig).

Pavochon (source El Colmadito)

  • 1 head of garlic(cloves separated and peeled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons withe vinegar
  • 3 Oregano,dried and crushed
  • 1 sazon bags with “culantro y achiote”
  • (use 1/4 teaspoon for every pound of poultry)

Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees.

In a mortar and pestle (pilon) mash together garlic,salt, pepper, oregano,sazon bags,withe vinegar and enough oil to make a spreadable smooth paste.

Marinate the turkey,both inside and out with the mixture a day ahead of cooking it, so the flavors can mix. For every pound of turkey or chicken, use 1 tsp. of adobo.

Stuff the turkey (not the mouth) with my “Basic Turkey Stuffing” or Mofongo recipe.

Place the turkey on a foil lined baking dish.

Coat the turkey with vegetable oil or if you prefer, it can be butter.

Cover the whole turkey with aluminum foil and put it in the heated oven.

Cook the turkey as follows:

  • If your turkey is 4 to 6 pounds, cook for about 3 to 3 ¾ hours.
  • If your turkey is 6 to 8 pounds, cook for about 3 ¾ to 4 ½ hours.
  • If your turkey is 8 to 12 pounds, cook for about 4 to 5 hours.

If you are going to stuff the turkey do not stuff it until you are ready to cook it.

I now there is a big stuffing vs. dressing debate, but I grew up eating a stuffed turkey for 19 years and when I do make a turkey I stuff it.  Also, 9 times out of 10 the stuffing served on a Puerto Rican table was stuffed.   It’s an extra special treat if it’s stuffed with mofongo.

Here is my mother’s stuffing.  Growing up I thought it was the best stuffing ever!

My Mami’s Thanksgiving Stuffing

  • turkey giblets (neck, heart and gizzards)
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 6 tbs sofrito
  • 1/2 lb of ground beef or pork
  • 1 1/2 cups of apple sauce
  • 1 cup of raisins
  • 2 tsp of powder sage
  • pepper and salt to taste
  • 2 14 oz boxes of herb stuffing bread crumbs (pepperidge farm or stove top)

Rinse giblets. Remove and discard liver. In a small saucepan cook the remaining giblets with 1 tps of adobo, covered, in enough boiling water to cover for 1 hour.  Using a slotted spoon remove giblets from broth, reserved broth. Chop giblets; set aside.

In the same saucepan heat olive oil and cook sofrito over medium heat for 3-4 minutes; remove from heat. Add ground beef and cook till brown.  Stir in giblets, apple sauce, raisins, sage, pepper, and salt. Place stove top in a very large bowl; add the meat mixture. Drizzle with enough broth to moisten, tossing lightly to combine.

Use stuffing in one 8- to 10-pound turkey. Place any remaining stuffing in a 1-quart casserole. (If necessary, to moisten, add more broth to stuffing in casserole.) Cover and chill until ready to bake.

If you choose to not stuff the turkey place all of stuffing in a 2-quart casserole. Bake, covered, in a 325 degree F oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until heated through. Makes 10 to 12 servings.

Also check out El Boricua Thanksgiving Criollo Style.


  1. Sandra D. says

    I make this stuffing but instead of ground beef I used italian sausage meat (without the casing) I also add 2 platanos maduros, fry and when done wait till they cool and cut them in pieces (not too big) and add to the stuffing.

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  3. says

    Hi, We are from P.R. and my Mom instead og the gibblets she will shred 2or3plantains and add it to the mixture, and aaaah it smelled like pasteles and also she added salchichon, and wat a taste. Enjoy.

  4. Erika says

    Great receipe, I love this time of year (I think is because of all the food!!!). I too celebrate with Pavochon, I think is the only way we Puertorican know how to celebrate Thanksgiving… The way I season it is with what I call my secrete paste (which is basically the same ingredients except I also add cilantro or sofrito!!). I usually do not stuff my turkey but seeing this blog I want to try the mofongo stuffing, My hubby will love that!!!!

  5. Neeta says

    Hi Meseidy!
    I can’t use giblets…something about it just isn’t for me. I was wondering, is there a substitute you can suggest? I really want to make this stuffing…

  6. Silvette says

    And the day after in sandwiches it’s even better!!!!!!!!! Ups I forgot to tell you about”el jamon de cocinar, las aceitunas con alcaparrado y las pasas”…sorry! Add it up! I love you!

    • Carola says

      Yes! That’s how I marinate mine too, but I also add cilantro or sofrito. I stuffed with picadillo or mofongo and throw some olives in the mix too. Nothing like a Puerto Rican Thanksgiving when you are far from your lovely island!!


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