My Very Americano Thanksgiving – Part One

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year. Its a great American holiday honoring our nation’s history and the diversity of its people, via food!!!

This will be my first Thanksgiving in which I have to make the whole meal, including the Turkey!! I hope I can wake up my inner Chef Peppin!

Our Thanksgiving menu honors the diversity of all of our guest: A Cuban vegetarian, an Italian-Irish New Englander and a Cuban-Mexican on a diet. The menu:

  • Turkey (Cuban Style)
  • Italian Meat Stuffing
  • Biscuits
  • Stuffed Mushrooms
  • Baked Sweet Potato Casserole
  • Butternut Squash Soup
  • Green Beans
  • Black Beans & Rice (Congri)
  • Mom’s Pumpkin Pie

Here goes my first attempt to make a turkey/ Pavo/ guajalote. Recipe below


My brother said it was the most Cuban looking turkey he has ever seen. Saying all it needed was a Guayberra for the turkey!

Thank’s to for the recipe for Congri stuffed Turkey:

  • 1 Turkey 8-10 pounds
  • ½ lb. of dry black beans
  • 1 ½ cups long grain rice medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large onion cut in rings
  • 8 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 large green pepper chopped
  • 1 bay leaf whole
  • 3 large lemons, their juice
  • 10 Bacon Strips, cut in pieces
  • 6 Bacon Strips whole
  • ½ cup dry wine
  • Black pepper
  • Oregano
  • Cumin
  • Salt
  • 1 cup Sour Orange Juice
  • 2 teaspoons of olive oil



Wash the turkey, inside and out. Dry well, Make mojo sauce (or buy ready made) by smashing the 6 garlic cloves with a mortar and mixing with 1/4 teaspoon cumin, 1 1/2 teaspoon of salt, the lemon and sour orange juice and two teaspoons of olive oil. Marinate the turkey inside and out. Save about 1/2 cup of the mojo marinade to be served at the table. Set the turkey on non-metal tray, and place the onion rings on top. Cover with wax or other non-metal paper. Place on refrigerator and the marinate for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.

Wash the dry black beans. Soak in 4 cups of water for about 8 hours. Chop the green pepper into small pieces and only 1/2 of it to the soaked black beans. Cook at low temperature in the soaking water until the beans are tender. (30 to 35 minutes)

In a pan, sauté the bacon pieces, the chopped onions, half of the chopped green pepper until the onions are translucent. Add the chopped garlic and sauté for 2 more minutes. Add this “sofrito: to the black beans once they are tender. Add the rice, 2 tsp. of salt, 1/4 tsp. cumin, 1/2 tsp of oregano. 1 bay leaf, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and cook over low heat until the rice is almost done. (that is, until the rice is a bit hard or al dente).
If needed, add small quantities of water so the rice and beans mixture (congri) is always moist and does not dry up while cooking. The rice will finish cooking inside the turkey, while in the oven.
Stuff the turkey with the congri and close well.

Pour 1/2 cup of dry cooking wine over the turkey and place the six strips of bacon across the turkey. Cover with aluminum foil and place in a preheated oven at 350 degrees. Keep covered with the aluminum foil during the first 2 1/2 hours. While cooking, baste the turkey a few times with the liquid that deposits on the tray. Uncover during the last hour so the surface of the turkey will brown. Total cooking time will depend on the size of the turkey and your oven characteristics



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