Q: What are your views/thoughts on hosting turkey night with a pavochon vs. traditional turkey? I was born in Granada, Nicaragua; raised in Hialeah, Fla.; moved to Granite City for three years. Came to Chicago in 2006 and plan on staying forever. I married a Puerto Rican and I think it's my turn to start our own tradition since our household is literally "Nica-Rican." Nicaraguan-Puerto Rican is not a common mix, but the pavochon sort of blends the American tradition of the turkey with the Puerto Rican marinade.
—Eva Morales, Chicago
A: I think it's a terrific idea, delicious, too. Thankgiving, to me, is an edible metaphor for the history of the United States (and Canada, too, where Thanksgiving is celebrated in October). Just as these two nations were built by a diverse people, both native-born and those from around the world, so should the Thanksgiving meal be assembled from dishes that incorporate all foods and cultures to make a new, North American tradition. Your "Nica-Rican" — love that — household is doing exactly that.
And, you know, plain turkey can get kinda boring. Pavochon — itself a blending of two Spanish words, "pavo" or turkey and "lechon" or roasted pig — brings a needed Latin sass to the bird with its use of aromatic vegetables and a flavorful adobo rub often used for roast pork.
Here's a recipe for pavochon from the website of Daisy Martinez, daisymartinez.com, the cookbook author and star of a public television cooking show. Based in Brooklyn, N.Y., she is of Puerto Rican descent.
1 12- to 13-pound turkey
3/4 cup wet adobo (recipe below)
1 large Spanish onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 celery stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons arrowroot or 4 teaspoons cornstarch
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons water
Remove the bag of giblets and neck from the turkey. Discard the liver; whack the remaining giblets and neck into large pieces with a cleaver or heavy knife.
Wash the turkey, pulling out and discarding any large pockets of fat from the body cavity. Pat the turkey dry. Work your fingers between the skin and flesh of the turkey, working carefully and slowly to prevent tearing the skin. Once you have separated the skin from the breast, thigh and as much of the leg meat as you can, rub the wet adobo into the flesh and inside the turkey. Truss the turkey with kitchen twine. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
Scatter the onion, celery, carrot, bay leaves, and reserved neck and giblet pieces into a roasting pan. Pour in 2 cups water. Place the turkey breast side down on a roasting rack (preferably a V-shaped one) and roast the turkey in a 400-degree oven for 13-15 minutes a pound, until the juices run clear, not pink, from the thickest part of the thigh when poked down to the bone with a paring knife. About 30 minutes before the turkey is cooked, turn it breast side up.
Remove the turkey from the rack; let rest on a cutting board. Add water, if necessary, to make about 2 cups of liquid in the pan. Skim fat from the liquid. Place the pan over high heat. Cook, stirring up the bits from the bottom, bring to a boil. Strain through a fine sieve, discarding the solids, and return the liquid to the pan. Stir the arrowroot and 2 tablespoons water together in a small bowl until the arrowroot is dissolved. Add to the gravy, stir over medium high heat, until the gravy is slightly thickened and glossy. Check for seasoning, adding salt and pepper if necessary.
A batch of this adobo, made according to a recipe from the Web site of Daisy Martinez, can be refrigerated for up to six days.
Pound 12 peeled garlic cloves with 1 1/2 tablespoons salt to a past using a mortar and pestle. Add 2 tablespoons dried oregano, 1 tablespoon black peppercorns; pounding well after each to incorporate them into the paste. Stir in two tablespoons each olive oil and white wine vinegar.
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