Even though Thanks­giv­ing was not always a tra­di­tion­al hol­i­day on the island, many Puer­to Rican fam­i­lies call­ing the States home began cel­e­brat­ing it by adding a touch of Sabor Lati­no. A tra­di­tion­al Puer­to Rican Thanks­giv­ing menu will like­ly con­sist of Pav­o­chon, Mofon­go stuff­ing, Arroz con Gan­d­ules (rice with pigeon peas), Tostones, and Tem­bleque or dulce de leche. I serve a green bean casse­role with my meal and for an appe­tiz­er I fry up some Pla­tanos ver­sus the Tostones. I sea­son mine with gar­lic, black pep­per and salt and serve them with Mojo Criol­lo.

I’m usu­al­ly cook­ing enough food to feed at least five Marines so I get a 12–15 lb turkey and call it a day. My mom always taught me to begin prep­ping my turkey the day before Thanks­giv­ing so my sea­son­ings have time to soak into that bird.

Two Days or One Day Before:

To thaw your bird slow you can stick it in the refrig­er­a­tor two days before or for fast thaw­ing sub­merge it in it’s wrap­ping (DO NOT take wrap­ping off) in your tub or a deep sink in cold water. Make sure the entire bird is sub­merged. The big­ger the bird the longer it’ll take to thaw. A big turkey like the ones I cook usu­al­ly take 2 days to thaw out in the refrig­er­a­tor.

The Day Before:

Sea­son your bird with Adobo, inside and out. Be gen­er­ous. Your guests will appre­ci­ate it. No one wants a bland turkey. Gath­er your black pep­per, gar­lic salt, oregano and papri­ka and rub them all over the bird. Poke holes in your bird with a fork so that the sea­son­ings will soak into its skin. Set the bird back in the fridge.


I usu­al­ly begin cook­ing my bird around 4 a.m., which only leaves me room to do oth­er things like pull out my tree and dec­o­ra­tions and set up oth­er dish­es. Begin by prepar­ing your mofon­go stuff­ing.

Mofon­go Stuff­ing.

You’ll need:

6 large green plan­tanos,

13 C of chick­en broth

4 tsp. chopped gar­lic

1 lb bacon chopped into small pieces and cooked. Throw away fat.

3 sweet chili pep­pers, chopped

14 cup olive oil

Mix bacon, gar­lic, pep­pers, and olive oil. Mash the pla­tanos and olive oil mix­ture in your pilon. Repeat until all ingre­di­ents are gone. Mix mofon­go and broth and if mofon­go isn’t moist enough, add more broth. Stuff the bird with the mofon­go and cook. and fol­low instruc­tions that came with your bird.


Heat your oven to 375º.

Rinse your turkey well. Rinse the inside once you remove the bag from the turkey’s cav­i­ty. Be sure to pull out the bag from your turkey BEFORE you begin cook­ing it!!! Muy Impor­tante!

Put the bird in a deep and stur­dy alu­minum or tin foiled roast­er. LINE it with alu­minum foil first.

Place chunks of but­ter on top of and all around the turkey. Place an entire stick of but­ter inside of the turkey’s cav­i­ty. Be gen­er­ous. You’ll have a juicy turkey in the end.

Now begin stuff­ing your turkey with the mofon­go. If you’re a new­bie cook, for­get the mofon­go and just whip out the Stove Top Stuff­ing and fol­low direc­tions on the box. It’s okay. We’re all begin­ners at one time.

Cov­er the turkey with alu­minum foil and put it in the oven.


4 to 6 pound turkey = 3 to 3 ¾ hours.

6 to 8 pound turkey = 3 ¾ to 4 ½ hours.

8 to 12 pound turkey = 4 to 5 hours.

12 pound and beyond = 5½ to 6 hours.

Always be sure to read the side of the turkey wrap­ping for exact cook­ing time. Bet­ter to be safe than under­cooked. Yuck! About 45 min­utes before your bird is done, remove the foil on top and con­tin­ue to cook uncov­ered until the bird is crispy on top.

12 Lb. turkey

Lots of Adobo


2 tsp. of Black pep­per

4 cloves of gar­lic (mash in a pilón)

2 tsp. of oregano (Leaf)

4 sticks of But­ter

To begin prepar­ing your Arroz con Gan­d­ules:


2 packs of Sazón

3 cans of Gan­d­ules

6 cups of water

4 cups of rice

2 cups chopped bacon, cooked

2 cups of Sofrito

2 Table­spoon of Goya Olive oil

Heat olive oil in a large caldero or pot.

Drain and rinse the cans of Gan­d­ules

Sauté the sofrito and chopped ham for about a minute and a half

Add rice, water, gan­d­ules and Sazón

Once it begins to boil, let it con­tin­ue for about 3 min­utes

Cov­er the pot tight and reduce the heat to medi­um-low. Let it cook for 35 to 40 min­utes.

***DO NOT use a lid with those vent holes and DO NOT lift the lid to check the rice!

When it’s done stir the rice once or twice before serv­ing and serve HOT.


2 pound green beans, washed and trimmed

2 cloves gar­lic, cut in half

3 table­spoon chopped onion

12 tea­spoons salt

1 table­spoons olive oil

½ pack­et of Sazón and ham sea­son­ing

1 table­spoon but­ter

18 tea­spoon pep­per

14 cup boil­ing water

Slice green beans in halves. Heat oil and but­ter in a skil­let. Add Sazón and ham sea­son­ing then sauté both with onion and gar­lic until soft. Remove gar­lic then add green beans, salt, pep­per, and boil­ing water. Cov­er and cook for 25 min­utes over medi­um heat until ten­der. You can add a lit­tle more water, if need­ed.


I like to wait until my pla­tanos are yel­low with a few black spots. To me, they taste better…sweeter. No Puer­to Rican dish (to me) is com­plete with­out rice, gan­d­ules, habichue­las and pla­tanos! To begin prepar­ing the pla­tanos. Use 4 pla­tanos to make enough to serve sev­er­al peo­ple and get a bot­tle of mojo criol­la for sauce.

Cut off about one inch from each end of the pla­tano using a sharp knife.

Slice them down the mid­dle then hor­i­zon­tal to fry them like chips except make them a lit­tle bit thick­er.

Place the sliced pieces in very hot water and let soak a few min­utes.

Take your knife and place it under the skin of the sliced piece and begin remov­ing the skin. Kind of like you’re peel­ing the skin off of a pota­to. Some­times I just use a pota­to peel­er.

Drain them on a paper tow­el then sprin­kle the slices with black pep­per, a dash of salt or gar­lic then fry each slice in the mix­ture of olive & veg­etable oil over medi­um heat until ten­der and gold­en brown. Turn them one time only.

And for the coupe de gras: DESSERT

We have Tem­bleque! This is a tra­di­tion­al Puer­to Rican dessert for the hol­i­days.


4 cups coconut milk and ground cin­na­mon

½ cup of corn­starch and ½ tsp. salt

23 cup of sug­ar

A medi­um sauce pan, serv­ing dish and square pan.

Dis­solve corn­starch in a saucepan with 14 cup of the coconut milk. Once it’s dis­solved add the rest of the coconut milk fol­lowed by the sug­ar, and salt. Cook at med-high heat and stir con­tin­u­ous­ly!

As the mix­ture gets thick, low­er heat until it boils. Imme­di­ate­ly pour into your pan. Let it cool then cov­er and place in fridge for at least 2 hours. Care­ful­ly sep­a­rate the tem­bleque from the mold using a knife. Turn it over unto a serv­ing dish then sprin­kle with the cin­na­mon. I serve this with café con leche or the men usu­al­ly just want anoth­er beer.

VOILA! You have just made your first Puer­to Rican Thanks­giv­ing meal! Enjoy!

Now if you dare…go a step fur­ther and add Coquito to the menu. This is a Puer­to Rican favorite most­ly pop­u­lar dur­ing Christ­mas and New Years. Nobody makes Coquito like my Abuela!


40 ounces coconut milk

14 ounces evap­o­rat­ed (con­densed) milk

1½ cup water

½ tsp. cin­na­mon

2 cup Bac­ar­di rum

Salt to taste

Mix all ingre­di­ents in a blender. Taste and add more rum if you like it stronger. You need to add the water because it will get thick once you refrig­er­ate it. Pour into a bot­tle and refrig­er­ate well. Col­lect pint size bot­tles to pour Coquito in for guests to take home as a par­ty favor.


Source by Ali­cia Evarista Cruz