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My Big, Fat Puerto Rican Meal Pavochon, Jibaritos, Spicy Piña Vinagre, Mantecadas

When Joanne announced that Regional Recipes was traveling to Puerto Rico this month, I was so excited!  But honestly, I'm not really all that familiar with the PR branch of hispanic know I'm pretty well-versed in Mexican cuisine...but there is so much more to hispanic/latino cuisine than just Mexican.  Perhaps I'm just giving myself a push by saying it out loud.  So, I was happy to start the digging and the drooling and the searching and the wondering.  Where, oh where, would this journey deposit me?  I ended up finding a whole meals worth of things I wanted to make in the book Daisy: Morning, Noon and Night by Daisy Martinez.  The flavors, the descriptions, the photos...I was instantly transported!  So, every single element of my big, fat, Puerto Rican meal came from this book. This post is pretty jam-packed with mouthwatering I'll stop the jawin' and let the food transport you today....

Adobo Mojado
Wet Adobo Rub
yield: ~1/2 c.

12 cloves garlic
1½ Tbs. kosher salt
1 Tbs. black peppercorns
2 Tbs. dried oregano
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. white wine vinegar

Place garlic cloves & salt in mortar and pound w/ pestle to a paste.  Add peppercorns and oregano, pounding each into the mix before adding the next.  Stir in the olive oil and vinegar.  Best when freshly made.

Use this peppery garlic rub to transform turkey into an irresistible meal!

Turkey Breast "Pavochon"
"Pavochon is a Puerto Rican word used to describe a turkey (pavo) seasoned and roasted like a suckling pig (lechón)."  ~Daisy
yield: ~12 svgs.

A double boneless turkey breast, skin left on
1/2 c. Adobo Mojado  see above

The first thing I had to do was bone a turkey breast...because I couldn't find one already boned anywhere!  It's easiest to use a flexible boning knife.  I just saved the bone/carcass that was left in the freezer for turkey stock.  Once you have your boneless double turkey breast w/ skin still attached...

Work from top (round end) and slip your fingers between the skin and the turkey, leaving skin attached along sides of breast.  Rub a generous amount of adobo under skin, massaging into meat.  Flip breast over and rub remaining adobo into skinless side of turkey, also.

Cut several 14" lengths of kitchen twine.  I realized too late that I didn't have any twine, so I improvised by cutting lengths of cheesecloth and twisting it into ropes.  Roll the breast up, tucking in any edges to make a tight, smooth roll.  Tie the breast securely at 1½ " intervals.  Wrap well in plastic and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight
Place an oven rack in lowest position and preheat to 400° F. Place the turkey on a rack in a roasting pan and let come to room temperature while oven is preheating.  Roast for 45 minutes.  Lower oven temperature to 375° F and continue roasting until thermometer inserted into thickest part of breast registers ~150° F, ~1 hour and 15 minutes.  The temp. will continue to rise as it sits outside of oven...reaching ultimate goal of 160-165° F. Remove and let stand for 20-30 mins. before carving.

Remove the twine and slice the turkey breast at a slighty angle into ¼" thick slices.

This is some of THE best turkey I've ever tasted in my life.  I think it was key leaving it to marinate overnight.  This was awesome eating just out of hand once it was sliced.

BUT, you cannot begin to imagine how double-awesome it was once it was added as a component in the Jibarito!

"Jibarito is a termof endearment in Puerto represents people who are the heart and soul of Puerto Rico."  This awesome sandwich is made with slices of fried plantain in place of bread.
yield: 2 sandwiches

2 green plantains
oil for frying
4 thickish slices Swiss Cheese
1 1/2 c. leftover thinly sliced Pavochon  see above
4 dill pickle slices  garlic dill
4 thin slices deli ham
2 Tbs. deli mustard

Peel the plantains.  Carefully cut them in half lengthwise.  Pour 1" oil into a large skillet and heat over medium until ~325° F.  Fry the platain halves, turning once, until they are tender when poked w/ the tip of a knife, but only just starting to brown, ~5 mins.  Remove and drain on paper towels until cool enogh to handle.  Lay still warm platain half flat side down on sturdy surface.  Pound w/ a flat-bottomed heavy skillet to an even thickness of ~¼".  Repeat w/ remaining halves.  Reheat oil over medium high until oil is ~375°F.  Fry the flattened plantains, turning once, until crisp and golden brown, ~5 mins.
Preheat a  sandwich or panini press.  Tear or cut the slices of cheese as necessary to cover two of the flattened plantain halves.  Top the cheese on each with an evenlayer of the turkey, then a layer of sliced pickle and 2 slices of ham.  Spread the mustard over the ham and top w/ two remaining plantain halves.  Cook in a sandwich or panini press until cheese is melted and centers are warmed through.  Cut in half and serve immediately. 
I drizzled it with Spicy Pineapple Vinegar (see below)...absolute insanity.  I cannot describe how fabulous this is.  The plantains turned bread were so rockin'!

Spicy Pineapple Vinegar
yield: ~4 c.

"A bottle of this spicy condiment is found on every table of every fonda in Puerto Rico.  It is, easily, more popular than ketchup."  ~Daisy

2 ripe pineapples
1/2 lg. Spanish onion, thinly sliced
20 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
6 habañero chiles, stemmed & coarsely chopped
1 Tbs. cider vinegar, plus more as needed
1 Tbs. smashed fresh oregano leaves
1 tsp. black peppercorns
1/2 tsp. kosher or fine sea salt, plus more as needed

Peel the pineapples and set aside the peel for use.  Save the pineapple for eating or use in something else.  Put rinds in a pot large enough to hold them comfortably, pour in enough cold water to cover and bring to a boil over high heat.  Adjust heat so liquid is at a gentle boil and cook until rinds are very tender, ~30 mins.  If water dips below rinds, top off as necessary to keep them submerged.

Meanwhile, put onion, garlic, chiles, vinegar. oregano, peppercorns, and salt in a large jar (or two smaller) w/ tight fitting lid.  Strain pineapple liquid into large measuring cup or bowl.  Pour into the jar of seasonings. Taste and add a little salt or vinegar if you think it needs it.  Can be used as soon as it cools, but will get better as it sits.  Keep in fridge for up to 2 months.
We finished off the meal with a simple plate of cookies and some strong coffee...
Puerto Rican Shortbread Cookies
yield:~30 cookies
slightly adapted

2 c. AP flour
1 c. almond flour
1/3 c. sugar
pinch salt
8 oz. cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 XL eggs  I used 3 lg. eggs, well beaten
~2/3 c. guava (or any) jelly  I used mango butter and strawberry jam

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Line 2 baking sheets w/ parchment.  Stir together flours, sugar and salt in medium bowl.  Add butter and work into dry ingredients w/ your fingertips until there is almost no trace of the butter left.  Dough should be loose and crumbly.  Add eggs and stir until dough is smooth and no longer crumbly.

Using 1 level Tbs. for each, roll dough into balls and set ~1½" apart on prepared baking sheets.  Press down firmly on center of each dough ball w/ your thumb to flatten it out and create a deep well.  Spoon ~½ tsp. jelly into each well.  Bake until cookies are very pale golden around edges, ~25 mins.

We absolutely loved every minute of our Big, Fat, Puerto Rican Meal!! Be sure to head over to Regional Recipes to check out what Puerto Rican recipes everybody else ventured into this, you have til the end of the month to join in the PR fun!

*Update 12/30/10: I am sharing this with the 12 Days of Bloggie-mas!