Thanksgiving Turkey: Pavochon

Turkey season has arrived!  So let’s talk turkey!

I am going to share with you my absolute favorite turkey recipe.  This is honestly the most delicious and moist turkey ever!  Scouts honor!  You will be the Thanksgiving turkey jive queen or king.

My technique is a little different, so you’re not going to end up with a golden skin bird, actually it’s probably going to look a little gnarly, but it will be delicious and succulent. PROMISE!!!  I made this same turkey for a catering and there wasn’t a scrap left.

Pavochon: Puerto Rican #Thanksgiving Turkey | TheNoshery.com

This is how turkey is done back home in Puerto Rico.  It’s called pavochon,  pavo meaning turkey and chon from lechon meaning pig, because it is seasoned like you would season a roast pig.  This bird will change your life.

Let start first with the seasoning.  In a food processor combine,  all the seasoning ingredients amounts according to the weight of the turkey.  You may think, “Really, these many cloves of garlic?” or “This much salt?”, but I promise your bird will be perfectly seasoned.

Pavochon: Puerto Rican #Thanksgiving Turkey | TheNoshery.com

Pulse the processor until the garlic is minced and well combined.

Pavochon: Puerto Rican #Thanksgiving Turkey | TheNoshery.com

Using your fingers and a small rubber spatula separate the skin from the turkey.

Pavochon: Puerto Rican #Thanksgiving Turkey | TheNoshery.com

Be sure to be gentle, but you want to separate the skin from the breast, legs and thighs.  Using a rubber spatula makes it easier to get to those hard to reach places.

Pavochon: Puerto Rican #Thanksgiving Turkey | TheNoshery.com

Pat the turkey dry with a paper towel.  Rub the seasoning under the skin and in the cavity, getting all up in that turkey’s business.  A small rubber spatula will help push the seasoning into those hard to reach places.

Pavochon: Puerto Rican #Thanksgiving Turkey | TheNoshery.com

Tuck the wings back behind the bird.  Cut a small slit into each side of the excess skin at the front of the turkey’s cavity.  Tuck the legs crossed through the slits.

Pavochon: Puerto Rican #Thanksgiving Turkey | TheNoshery.com

Cover the turkey tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Pavochon: Puerto Rican #Thanksgiving Turkey | TheNoshery.com

The next day pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees.

This is when it may get a little weird for some people.  Flip the bird breast side down using 4 onion halves to stabilize the bird.  It doesn’t have to be perfect, just stable.

Pavochon: Puerto Rican #Thanksgiving Turkey | TheNoshery.com

Pour a 12 oz bottle of beer into the roasting pan.  I thought some Shiner Holiday Cheer would be a festive choice.

Pavochon: Puerto Rican #Thanksgiving Turkey | TheNoshery.com

Tightly cover turkey and roasting pan with aluminum foil.  Making sure you have a tight seal.

Roast in the oven until the temperature taken at the thigh reads 165 degrees (refer to chart below for appox. times), 30 minutes before it is done uncover and using two kitchen clean towels flip the turkey breast side up, drizzle breast with olive oil and return to oven.

Pavochon: Puerto Rican #Thanksgiving Turkey | TheNoshery.com

When done remove the turkey from the oven and let rest for 10-15 minutes.

See, like I said, you don’t end up with a gorgeous golden bird like you see in the magazines, but the taste of this bird will knock your socks off.

Pavochon: Puerto Rican #Thanksgiving Turkey | TheNoshery.com

Carve into those big tender juicy breasts…you know what I mean.

I am going to be honest with you. I am strictly a dark meat kind of girl, but because this bird is roasted breast side down and tightly sealed it makes the tender juiciest white meat ever!  For this turkey I cross over to the white meat side.

Pavochon: Puerto Rican #Thanksgiving Turkey | TheNoshery.com

This step it totally up to you, but I highly recommend it.  I know the turkey is already juicy, but why put a limit on juicy?  You can make gravy out of the dripping, but I like to carve and pick the turkey clean and serve it in the juices.

 

Pavochon: Puerto Rican #Thanksgiving Turkey | TheNoshery.com

All that turkey goodness sits and marinades to become even more goodness.  I know! I didn’t think it was possible either, but IT IS! Honestly you could almost mistake this bird for pork. And, you all know how much I love pig!

Pavochon: Puerto Rican #Thanksgiving Turkey | TheNoshery.com

The measurements for the seasoning in the recipe below is for 1 pound of turkey, so however much your turkey weights multiply that by your ingredient amount.  So, if your turkey weights 24 pounds, that is 24 teaspoons of salt, 24 cloves of garlic and so on.

There you have it! My favorite turkey, just like my Mami made it.   Because that is how a Puerto Rican does turkey *puff out chest, beating chest* Hoo-ra!  You know you want some!

Thanksgiving Turkey: Pavochon
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Adapted from Cocina Criolla
Author:
Ingredients
Basic seasoning per 1 lb of turkey*
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 peppercorn
  • ¼ teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon white vinegar
Turkey
  • 1 whole turkey
  • 2 large onions, peeled and halved
  • 1 12 oz bottle beer
Instructions
  1. Rise and clean turkey, removing neck & gizzards, pat dry.
  2. Combine all seasoning ingredients in a food processor, pulse until garlic is minced and well combined.
  3. Using your fingers and a rubber spatula gently separate the skin from the breast, legs and thighs of the turkey. Rub the seasoning under the skin and in the cavity of the turkey. Drizzle the skin of the turkey with olive oil and rub it all over. Tuck the wings back behind the bird. Cut a small slit into each side of the excess skin at the front of the turkey's cavity. Tuck the legs crossed through the slits. Place turkey in roasting pan, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  4. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.
  5. Remove turkey from the refrigerator and flip the turkey breast side down. Use the onion halves to stabilize the turkey. Pour beer into the roasting pan and cover tightly with heavy duty aluminum foil. Roast in the oven until the temperature taken at the thigh reads 165 degrees (refer to chart below for appox. time), 30 minutes before it is done uncover, using two clean kitchen towels flip the turkey breast side up, drizzle breast with olive oil and return to oven..
  6. When done remove the turkey from the oven and let rest for 10-15 minutes.
  7. Carve and pick the meat off the turkey, return to juices and serve.
Approximate Roasting Times for Unstuffed Turkey
Turkey Weight / Hours
  1. to 8 lbs / 2.5 to 3 hrs
  2. to 12 lbs / 3 to 4 hrs
  3. to 16 lbs / 4 to 5 hrs
  4. to 20 lbs / 5 to 5.5 hrs
  5. to 24 lbs / 5.5 to 6 hrs
Notes
Multiply seasoning ingredients by pounds of turkey

Reserve turkey neck and giblets pouch for dressing.

Allow up to 2 days to defrost turkey in refrigerator.

Comments

  1. Elizabeth says

    I’m so glad this recipe reminded me of pavochon. My new boss abstains from pork and I didn’t want to leave her out of Puerto Rican Christmas lunch! I usually bring some arroz con gandules (easy enough to make kosher and/or vegetarian if you want to), tembleque (sorry vegans, esa es la que hay), guava cheesecake (and/or mantecaditos with guava) and of course, pernil. But I think this year work gets pavochon! Thanks, Meseidy!

  2. ellie says

    Thank you so much for this recipe!! I made my turkey early this year and am already enjoying leftovers :) I substituted apples for the onion and Glenlivet for the beer. I love your blog, I just stumbled onto it while searching turkey recipes on pinterest and I’m sure I’ll be frequenting through your recipes in the future. I’m a native Puerto Rican living in Orlando and I’m glad I found a way to reconnect with my people’s food :) keep up the great work!

  3. Daisy Bermudez says

    Hello Meseidy,
    I am happy to let you know that this will be my second year using this recipe for my thanksgiving turkey! Now I have a question for your concerning your savory bread pudding which i’m dying to try.

    How many cups of bread cubes would you say is a loaf of bread for this recipe? Also, if i wanted to add ground beef to it would it work and how much ground beef? How many serviings is this recipe for? i will be serving about 10 healthy eaters..

  4. Olga Diaz says

    Wow! just in time..i’m going to try this pavochon for sure, i’m sure i can use
    the same method for a pollochon, too! I’m so glad i’ve
    found your excellent blog. To me it has it all: great cooking, great photography
    and a healthy dose of humor. Many thanks Meseidy.

  5. callie says

    PS we made this in addition to our regular bird — 18 guests meant two turkeys. not only did it hold its own against the brined turkey, i think i may have even liked it better! (though it’s hard to call.)

  6. callie says

    made this for thanksgiving today, and it was amazing! also, no reason for it to be ugly or sans golden skin — we just removed the foil for the last few minutes after it had been flipped, and got a gorgeous bird! thanks for a great recipe!

  7. Heidi Neto says

    Hi and thanks for a wonderful blog! I really enjoy it! I am a gringa with a Brazilian husband making the pavochon for our thanksgiving dinner! I have it seasoned and can’t wait to put it in the oven tomorrow to see if it turns out as good as yours looks! Thanks for the great recipes! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! :-) The Neto Family | Fort Lauderdale, Florida

  8. jenn says

    Thank you so much we are stationed in Hawaii.this year and I will be making Thanksgiving dinner solita and was scared lol thank you for the step by step can’t wait to try it. God Bless xoxo

  9. Tren says

    Okay I was lucky enough to taste this wonderful dish today… I can’t tell you how delicious it is! The meat is so tender and juicy.. with sooo much flavor!! Leftovers make the best sandwiches as well!! Great job! BTW, I love your site :)

  10. Jennifer Rdgz. says

    Yummy!! I’ve never done it with the beer but always roast the turkey this way!!! Thanks for my recipe for this year!

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