Jason Perlow: A Jewish Puerto Rican Thanksgiving

jason-small by you.

So after visiting Guavate, Rachel and I knew that we had to try making Pavochon ourselves, the real Puerto Rican way. This year, it happened that Thanksgiving was only going to be 4 of us — Rachel’s parents and the two of us, so we were assigned to doing the cooking. So if we were in charge, why not mix it up and do it Puerto Rican style?

Thanksgiving 2008 by you.

This is by far the most colorful Thanksgiving plate I’ve ever seen. Clockwise from top right, Pavo Chon with vegetable gravy, Boriqua Slaw, Mashed Calabaza Squash, Arroz con Gandules y Calabaza, sauteed Green Beans and Asparagus.

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Daisy has a really good recipe for Pavochon which I recommend highly — but in Guavate, I saw this particular turkey:

Guavate, Puerto Rico by you.

It had been deboned and stuffed back into its own skin and then roasted. This got me thinking — what if we took Daisy’s recipe, de-boned it, and then smoked it on my Weber Bullet, so it would really taste like slow roasted turkey over charcoal? Then it would be BARBECUE! And Puerto Rican at the same time!

Pavochon Ahumado Puertorriqueño by you.

First, you got your turkey. This is a regular supermarket turkey in the 12-14 pound range, which we bought frozen and then thawed out. As you can see, we completely removed all the skin (try to keep it in one piece), and then laid it on a separate baking sheet, like so:

Pavochon Ahumado Puertorriqueño by you.

We then seasoned this with Adobo Seasoning Mix, cumin, and fresh ground black pepper.

Pavochon Ahumado Puertorriqueño by you.

We then removed the legs and wings from the turkey. Keep the wings aside and roast them separately, they are a great treat to keep for yourself as a snack later on when everyone goes home.

Pavochon Ahumado Puertorriqueño by you.

And removed the breast meat, leaving just an empty carcass. Pick any remaining meat off the carcass and set it aside. You can now throw him in a stock pot and make soup.

Pavochon Ahumado Puertorriqueño by you.

After removing the legs and the breast meat, cut all the dark meat off the legs, and throw the leg bones into the stock pot with the carcass.

Pavochon Ahumado Puertorriqueño by you.

Layer the dark meat onto the Turkey skin, and hit it with some more Adobo seasoning and cumin and black pepper.

Pavochon Ahumado Puertorriqueño by you.

In a food processor, make 1 recipe of Daisy’s Wet Adobo.

Pavochon Ahumado Puertorriqueño by you.

Spread the Wet Adobo on the dark meat.

Pavochon Ahumado Puertorriqueño by you.

Now layer on the breast meat and do the same. You might need to slice up the breasts so they lay more flat and even.

Pavochon Ahumado Puertorriqueño by you.

Now, using butcher’s twine, truss up the turkey like a Pork Roast. Here’s a video of how to do this. If a bit of the dark meat comes out the skin, its not a big deal, just push it back  in. The video shows a small pork loin being trussed, so you may have to be more careful and use more twine to tie this roast up. Also, as I mentioned above, try to take the skin off the turkey in one large piece. Our turkey skin is in four pieces, which is why some of the dark meat started to escape.

Pavochon Ahumado Puertorriqueño by you.

Here’s a close-up of the knotting process.

Pavochon Ahumado Puertorriqueño by you.

This is how it should look when you are done. The roast is now sitting on top of a roasting rack in a disposable aluminum double roasting pan. Put some more Adobo seasoning and salt and pepper and cumin on the top for good measure, cover this with plastic wrap and let him sit in the fridge to marinate at least overnight.

Pavochon Ahumado Puertorriqueño by you.

When its time to cook the roast, put your root vegetables (Onion, Carrots) in the bottom of the aluminum pan and some white wine or beer. I used a Weber Bullet to smoke the roast over charcoals and hickory at approximately 225 degrees for 3 and 1/2 hours, or until the internal temperature of the meat was around 155 degrees, which is par-cooked, because I was going to transport it to my in-laws and re-heat it in the oven at 325 for about a half an hour. If you are going to fully cook the turkey on your backyard grill, it should probably take about 4 to 4 and 1/2  hours, or until the temperature of the meat with a probe reaches 165 degrees.

Pavochon Ahumado Puertorriqueño by you.

Here’s a little bit of dark meat we grabbed off the roast. That pink color comes from the smoke.

Pavochon Ahumado Puertorriqueño by you.

Here’s the pan juices. Strain and defat the juices. Puree the vegetables (you may not need all of them), blending in the defatted juices and stock (remember that carcass you cooked?) to thin and to taste.

Pavochon Ahumado Puertorriqueño by you.

Here’s the Pavochon, just out of the BBQ Smoker.

Thanksgiving 2008 by you.

Here’s the table at my in-laws, set and ready to go.

Thanksgiving 2008 by you.

Here’s the Pavochon after being re-heated in the oven.

Thanksgiving 2008 by you.

Smoked Turkey wing, for mom.

Thanksgiving 2008 by you.

Here’s the Pavochon sliced up, in all of its glory.

Thanksgiving 2008 by you.

What do you serve Pavochon with? Well, we wanted to amp up the vegetable content with this meal, so we decided to whip up some “Boriqua Slaw”. This is not a traditional Puerto Rican dish, but its great for a salad course and is a great use for Daisy’s Pinapple Vinagre.

Thanksgiving 2008 by you.

No traditional Puerto Rican meal is complete without Arroz con Gandules. Our version used brown rice, and we also added Calabaza, Puerto Rican Pumpkin. Calabaza is a term for different types of pumpkin that is commonly found in the Caribbean but you can get it in certain Latino supermarkets in major cities. This is what it looks like:

Plaza Del Mercado en Santurce, San Juan PR by you.

Here is a variety of Calabaza that is sold in Puerto Rico. You can find other varieties with different flesh colorations. Some of the ones that come from other countries have very bright orange flesh. Some of these are so big that they have to sell it in peices wrapped in plastic wrap.

Thanksgiving 2008 by you.

Here’s the soup, a Caldo Gallego, which is a traditional soup from Galicia in Spain similar to an Escarole and Bean soup. This was made with the Turkey Stock from the deboned turkey, beans, cubed Calabaza, Chicken Andouille sausage (traditionally it calls for Chorizo) and lots of Kale.

Thanksgiving 2008 by you.

Heres a plate of Asparagus and Green Beans sauteed with Garlic. Gotta have your veggies!

Thanksgiving 2008 by you.

For dessert, Flan de Calabaza. This was based off of Ellie Krieger’s Pumpkin Flan recipe from Food Network. Pretty much exactly the same as her recipe, but we used leftover cooked and strained Calabaza instead of canned pumpkin.

Thanksgiving 2008 by you.

And for dessert #2, Rachel’s Mom’s Apple Crumble.

Thanksgiving 2008 by you.

Buen Provecho and Happy Holidays!

4 Responses to “Jason Perlow: A Jewish Puerto Rican Thanksgiving”


  1. 1 daisy November 28, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    That’s it….it’s official! By virtue of the powers vested in me, I now pronounce you a full fledged Jewyoriquen! That is honestly a beautiful looking plate…for Thanksgiving or any other festive occasion.
    You and Rachel really outdid yourselves! Welcome to the ranks, hermano! Great tutorial!

  2. 2 Sandy Nash November 28, 2008 at 10:14 pm

    I am Rachel Perlow’s mother and I am very proud of my children. They made us the best and most relaxed Thanksgiving we have had in years.

    Everything was delicious. You just have to be willing to go with something different for Thanksgiving.

  3. 3 Moraima November 29, 2008 at 2:46 am

    WoW!

    Fantastic…. mouth watering….mmmmmmmmm…
    keep it up……. u go Jason P.

    Love, Moraima

  4. 4 Chantal November 30, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    That looks HEAVENLY, we don’t celebrate thanksgiving here, but I’ll definately be giving that a try.


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