By Illyanna Maisonet, courtesy of Bon Appétit magazine.
"Pavochon, both the word and the dish, is one of Puerto Rico's many Spanglish creations," says writer illyanna Maisonet. "A mash-up of pavo for turkey and chon for lechón, it's become the centerpiece of a Puerto Rican Thanksgiving. Come November, supermarket shelves across Puerto Rico hold all the classic components: cranberry sauce, stuffing, dinner rolls. The diaspora became accustomed to these items Stateside and brought them back to the island – which could be how pavochon was born."
Serve it with Maisonet's Cornbread and Salami Dressing.
Note: Achiote paste is essential for getting a deep burnished color and extra rich flavor all over the turkey.
8 - 10 Servings
1 12–14-lb. whole turkey, neck and giblets removed, patted dry
1 lemon, halved
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp. achiote (annatto) paste
2 Tbsp. dried oregano
2 Tbsp. granulated garlic
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 large onion, halved
5 garlic cloves
2 celery stalks
Step 1: Using your fingers, gently separate skin from breast meat starting at neck. Rub outside of turkey all over with cut sides of lemon; set lemon aside. Season inside and out all over with salt and pepper (be generous with the salt). Rub butter over breast meat underneath skin.
Step 2: Mash oil, achiote paste, oregano, granulated garlic, and cumin in a small bowl to a smooth paste. Rub an even layer all over outside of turkey. Tie legs together with kitchen twine. Let sit at room temperature 2 hours, or set on a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet and chill, uncovered, up to 2 days.
Step 3: If chilled, let turkey sit at room temperature 1 hour before roasting.
Step 4: Place a rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 450°. Place onion, garlic, celery, and reserved lemon inside turkey cavity. Place turkey in a large roasting pan on top of a flat or V-shaped wire rack. Pour 1½ cups water into pan. Roast turkey, rotating once if it is browning unevenly, until skin is browned all over and beginning to crisp, 25–30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350° and continue to roast turkey, basting with pan juices every 30 minutes, adding more water by ½-cupfuls if completely evaporated, and rotating pan if browning unevenly, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of breasts registers 150°–155° and thickest part of thighs registers 165°–170°, about 1½ hours longer. Transfer turkey to a cutting board; let rest 30–60 minutes before carving. (If making gravy, deglaze pan and use drippings.)