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The Pavochon with Mofongo Stuffing on a bed of green banana leaves
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Pavochon with Mofongo Stuffing

A lechon-marinated turkey is roasted and filled with a garlicky, mashed plantain stuffing.
Course dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Puerto Rican/Hispanic
Keyword plantains, turkey
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours 30 minutes
marinating time 2 days
Total Time 2 days 4 hours 50 minutes
Servings 10
Calories 801kcal

Equipment

  • large roasting pan with rack
  • dutch oven for frying
  • meat thermometer

Ingredients

For the Pavochon (begin 1-2 days ahead)

  • 12 pound turkey thawed with giblets and neck removed
  • 1/2 cup distilled vinegar
  • 16 cloves garlic peeled
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon granulated onion
  • 2 teaspoons sazón
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup sofrito
  • 2 tablespoons achiote oil
  • 2 teaspoons adobo optional
  • fresh banana leaves soaked for 15 minutes (optional)

For the Monfongo Stuffing

  • 4 large green plantains peeled and cut into 1-inch thick chunks and soaked in salted water
  • vegetable or peanut oil for frying
  • 8 ounces pork rinds
  • 8 cloves fresh garlic peeled and mashed to a paste
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • kosher salt to taste
  • chicken stock as needed

Instructions

Prepare the Pavochon Marinade (1-2 days ahead)

  • Douse the turkey, inside and out, with the distilled white vinegar. Allow the vinegar to sit on the turkey for 10 minutes.
    After 10 minutes, use paper towels to pat the outside of the turkey dry, then put the turkey on a sheet pan.
  • In a pilón (or mortar and pestle), mash the peeled garlic together with the salt, oregano leaves,  granulated onion, sazón, and black pepper, until you have a fine paste.
    Once the paste has been created, stir the sofrito into the paste making a loose marinade. 

Marinate the Turkey

  • Separate the turkey skin from the flesh using your fingers: scrape away the connective tissue (or fibers) that are holding the skin to the flesh. Do this all over the breast and back of the turkey.
    Carefully pierce the meat with a thin boning knife. Try not to damage the skin.
    Once the skin is separated from the flesh, rub marinade over the outside, under the skin, and, finally, inside the cavity.
  • Wrap the turkey in plastic wrap as tightly as possible: grab a few layers of plastic wrap and tightly wrap them around the turkey. Follow this with a layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil.
    Alternatively, you can leave the turkey in the pan and just cover the turkey loosely in plastic wrap. The meat won't be as flavorful, though.
  • Return the turkey to the sheet pan, then slide the sheet pan into the sheetpan.
    Marinate the turkey for 12-48 hours.

Roast the Turkey

  • After marinating the turkey, and 30-45 minutes before putting it into the oven, arrange your oven's rack so it's in the lower half of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
    Remove the wrapping from the turkey, then set the bird into a rack inside of a large roasting pan.
  • Pat the skin of the turkey down with paper towels. Rub the achiote oil all over the turkey, then sprinkle the adobo onto the surface of the turkey.
    Cover the turkey with the damp banana leaves then wrap the roasting pan in heavy-duty aluminum foil. Ensure the seal on the foil is tight.
    Alternatively, you can just cover the pan tightly with the aluminum foil.
  • Slide the turkey into the oven.
    Roast the meat according to its size and its corresponding time on the chart found in the notes. 

Prepare the Mofongo Stuffing (an hour before removing the turkey to uncover it)

  • Drain the water from the plantains, then pat them very dry.
    Heat vegetable or peanut oil to 350°F in a large cast-iron dutch oven or pot.
  • Fry the plantain chunks in small batches for 3-4 minutes, or until a knife pierced into the center of the plantains meet no resistance.
    Use a spider to remove the plantains from the oil and drain them on a bed of paper towels to absorb any excess oil.
    Continue frying the rest of the plantains until they're all cooked.
  • Once the plantains are fried, make the mofongo by adding 5 chunks of plantains, a handful of pork rinds, 1 teaspoon of the garlic paste, 1/2 teaspoon of oregano, and a pinch of pepper and a pinch of salt to a pilón (or bowl) and mashing it all together.
    Instead of doing the mofongo in small batches, if you have a potato masher, you can also add everything to a large mixing bowl and use it to mash everything together at once.
  • Once smashed, the mofongo should have the consistency of thick mashed potatoes and slightly dry to mimic bread stuffing. To moisten the mofongo, add a 1/2-1 cup of chicken stock to the mix. 
    Set the mofongo aside until the turkey comes out of the oven. 

Uncover and Stuff the Pavochon

  • Remove the turkey from the oven one hour before it's finished. Check the chart in the notes section to determine when your turkey needs to come out of the oven.
    Unwrap the turkey (if you've covered it in the banana leaves) and use a large spoon to stuff it with the mofongo.
  • Next, use the spoon or a turkey baster to ladle any pan juices over the turkey and mofongo.
    Return the roasting pan with the turkey to the oven and continue to roast for 45 minutes-1 hour, basting the turkey once after 30 minutes.
    If you find that your turkey wings or breast are growing too dark in the oven, shield them with a layer of heavy duty aluminum foil. 
  • Insert a thermometer probe into the turkey breast's thickest part to properly check that it's ready.
    The internal temperature of a fully cooked turkey is 165°F (74°C). Ensure that your thermometer's probe is not touching bone. Bone registers higher temperatures than flesh does.
    Once the turkey is fully cooked, remove it from the oven and allow it to rest for 30 minutes before carving to allow the meat's juices to settle back into the meat.
  • Once the turkey has rested completely, use a carving knife to carve it.
    Serve the turkey with your preferred choice of sides and enjoy.

Notes

How Big of a Turkey Do I Need?
You need 1 pound 4 ounces of turkey per diner:
  • 5 lb turkey feeds 4
  • an 8 lb turkey feeds 6
  • 10 lb turkey feeds 8
  • 13 lb turkey feeds 10 
How Long do I Need to Roast My Pavochon Before Uncovering and Stuffing It?
  • 8-12 pound turkey: 2 1/2 hours
  • 12-14 pound turkey: 3 1/2 hours
  • 14-18 pound turkey: 4 hours
  • 18-20 pound turkey: 4 1/2 hours
Storage, Reheating, and Freezing Instructions:
  • Store any leftover turkey in food storage containers in the refrigerator for 72 hours.
  • Reheat leftover turkey in the microwave or on the stovetop in a skillet: 
       Sprinkle a little bit of water onto the turkey before reheating it.
       Reheat leftovers while covered to retain as much moisture as possible.
       The mofongo should also be sprinkled with a small amount of water and     
          reheated, covered.
  • To freeze leftover turkey: allow it to cool completely before transferring it to a freezer storage bag.
    Freeze the meat for up to six months.
    To thaw frozen turkey meat, put it in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours, or until it has thawed completely.
    Reheat as instructed above. 
 

Nutrition

Calories: 801kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 99g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 300mg | Sodium: 1974mg | Potassium: 1277mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 1050IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 82mg | Iron: 4mg