I prepared a Turkey a once. A long time ago. I think Dylan was still in diapers. There was no Instagram or a Blog to document it. I think it was good. I don’t remember.
We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving Day. But for a few years after my grandmother was out of commission, my father was in charge of providing them with their Turkey Day Dinner. After my grandmother died is was only for my grandfather so we eat the rest of the food. A lot of food.
Every year I see the TV commercials of those big shinny Turkeys coming out of the oven. Every year I say when Thanksgiving is over I am going to try and cook another Turkey. But then I go to the supermarket, there are no Turkeys. Or the ones that they have are to expensive. So, this year I bought it at the same time everybody else was buying it.
First, I look for a recipe. There is not that much thing that I cook without a recipe. Especially if is the first time I do it. So, in this case, I try to find the one I used the last time. The one from the Book, Sabor Criollo. I lost my book in the Hurricane. So, I went to my friend, Google and did a little research. I didn’t find anything for free. But I found a recipe forPavochon that I like. This recipe and what I remember from Willo’s Recipe can make a pretty good turkey. I think…
Now I need a turkey. I went to a supermarket and got a small one. But not that small. I didn’t what a chicken I wanted a Turkey. This one is 12.28 pounds. At $9.70 it was .79¢ the pound. I have no idea if that is a good price or not.
I consulted with the expert, my brother about the size and he gave me the OK. I took Gordon home. That’s the Turkey name, Gordon. I name everything.
I need to find a crib for Gordon to thaw. Something big enough. I think the big caldero is good for now.
Ok, Gordon do your thing and thaw. I wait.
I put the caldero with Gordon in the fridge overnight.
On Tuesday afternoon I took Gordon out of the fridge. I felt some parts still frozen. So, I took the packaging off the turkey and put Gordon in the sink.
I let the water run on top of it for a little bit. That helped. Gordon spends the night again in the fridge, but this time in a serving dish with water. In the morning it was completely thawed.
I wanted to make sure I had everything I need to prepare the Turkey. So, I check the recipe I found online. I have everything for the turkey. But I want to make a mofongo stuffing because I like to complicate stuff sometimes. I need plantains and chicken stock. The rest of the ingredients I have them already. I make a few notes, Oven temperature and cooking time, etc. And I leave for the supermarket.
When I came back from the Supermarket I started preparing my Adobo. This recipe is for a Pavochon. Pavochon is a Pavo (Turkey in Spanish) that have been given the same treatment as a Lechon (as small Pork in Spanish) in the way that had been prepared. Especially the seasoning or Adobo. This is a wet adobo. I learned, watching a cooking show that a good meat seasoning needs salt, fat, and acidity. In this case, the salt comes in the garlic and salt, the fat in the olive oil and the acidity in the vinegar.
This is the complete recipe.
12 garlic cloves Mince or Crushed
1 ½ TBSP salt
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
2 TBPSP Olive Oil
2 TBSP of White Vinegar
Mixed all ingredients together in a small or medium bowl.
After I prepared the adobo. I grabbed a stick of butter cut it an put it in the microwave to soften for 10-20 seconds.
A then it was time to put my hands inside Gordon. I knew that there were some things that I need to take out from the inside. Something that looks like a neck, and a little bag with I don’t know what, inside. And I didn’t check what was it. I throw everything away. I only need the turkey today. That is expert level turkey cooking.
I started separating the skin from the turkey. I was just doing what I seen people do on TV, or what I read on Pinterest. I put my adobo on the Turkey cavities. Inside the turkey, on top, and under the skin. After I finish with the adobo.
I started massaging the turkey with the stick of butter. The butter is supposed to give flavor and make it look nice and golden. I covered the whole thing with plastic wrapper and put it back in the fridge overnight.
Thursday morning, after my coffee. I started by making the Mofongo Stuffing. I cut some bacon and fry it in a pan. Then I mince some garlic and mix the garlic with olive oil. “El Husband” was helping by cutting the plantain, that is something that I hate doing. I am the worst Puerto Rican. I put the plantains to fry. But then I read the recipe for the mofongo stuffing and something wasn’t clicking.
The recipe asks to make tostones. And then mix the tostones with the bacon, garlic and oil mixture, and a little bit of chicken stock. But, you don’t make mofongo by making tostones. Those are two different things.
A toston is a twice-fried plantain. You fry the plantain smash it with a flat instrument and then fry it again. A mofongo is a process completely different, yes you star frying the plantains. Then you mix the plantain with a few other ingredients, depending on your favorite recipe. And mashed it together, probably in a Pilon if you have one. This made me realize something, if I made tostones, then mashed then to make mofongo, put the mofongo inside the turkey I was going to have a very dry stuffing inside that Turkey.
So, I let my ancestor guide me. And by ancestors, I mean the years and years on eating mofongo and seen people prepared mofongo. I fry the plantain by batches of five.
And mashed then with a little bit of the garlic/olive oil mixture and some bacon. I repeat this process three times.
I put my Mofongo Stuffing inside the turkey, but not all of it.
I made Mofongo Balls with the rest.
And then it was time to put the turkey in the oven. First, I tuck the wings under the turkey, I saw a video that shows me how to do it. And then tie the legs. I have no idea what is the purpose of this. But it appeared to be important.
I put the turkey inside the bag. The bag is supposed to lock the moisture in, so Turkey is not dry. Before you put the turkey inside the bag, you put a tablespoon of flour and shake it. That prevents the bag from breaking inside the oven.
Here is the turkey inside the Bag. I put a red circle around the thingy that marks when the turkey is ready. And put the turkey in the 325º preheated oven. And started the timer for 4 hours.
4 hours later this was the result. This is the thing. I forgot to take a picture of the whole Turkey before cutting it. I had to put that leg back and take a picture of half the turkey.
My friend has to cut the turkey for me. She is a pro. And will be doing all my turkey cutting from now on.
Here are the legs. I saw this a thought of my father.
My brother made Arroz Congri, for the first time. And my friend brought a great Potato Salad. I prepared a gravy. And by prepared, I mean, open a bottle that bought at the supermarket and heat it in the microwave. And this was my beautiful plate.
We were so excited by this meal, that nobody took pictures. This is the only one I have.
Now this is what I think about my experience cooking a Turkey.
It takes a week to cook a Turkey. From getting it from the store. Defrosting. Preparing it. The whole day cooking and then cutting it. Is a loooonggg journey.
What I will change: Next time, I am getting a bucket and putting the turkey in salt water overnight. That is my father and uncle secret method of making sure the meat is a season well. I wanted to do it. But didn’t find a bucket on time.
And the most important thing remembers to take a picture before cutting it.
Para mis lectores en español. Esperen la version en español la proxima semana.