Pavo Relleno

Stuffed Drunken Turkey

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • 12 to 14


Appears in

Secrets of Colombian Cooking

Secrets of Colombian Cooking

By Patricia McCausland-Gallo

Published 2004

  • About

Pavo Relleno is what is served in many homes along with Pernil de Cerdo, Tamales and Hayacas for Christmas holiday season events. Normally turkeys were given Aguardiente* or rum to get them drunk before being killed to be prepared for the festivities.

I have used this filling for many years and changed it a bit over time, such as adding Dijon mustard, but otherwise it is the traditional beef and pork filling. Count one pound of raw turkey per serving.


  • One 14-pound turkey
  • Lime juice or vinegar, as needed

Turkey Seasoning

  • cup diced onion
  • 1 cup butter
  • ¼ cup minced parsley
  • ½ cup minced cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon minced scallion
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon pepper

Pork and Beef Stuffing

  • ½ pound ground beef
  • ½ pound ground pork or Italian sausage
  • cups diced onion
  • 1 cup raisins
  • ½ cup minced scallions
  • ¼ cup minced cilantro
  • ¼ cup minced parsley
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 15 capers, rinsed
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 ounces bacon
  • ¼ cup sliced pitted prunes
  • 8 pitted green olives, sliced
  • ½ cup cognac
  • 1 cup port wine
  • 3 green apples, peeled and diced
  • ½ cup toasted almonds
  • 5 slices white bread
  • 2 whole eggs, beaten
  • 1 (12-ounce) can of beer, for roasting the turkey
  • Juices from from the roasting pan, for the gravy
  • Butter, for the gravy
  • Flour, for the gravy


  1. If frozen, thaw the turkey in the refrigerator about 2 days without unwrapping from the original package. Remove the gizzards and any other giblets inside (discard or use for other purposes). Wash the turkey well inside and out with lime juice or vinegar.
  2. Once the turkey has thawed, make the seasoning: Place onion, butter, parsley, cilantro, mustard, garlic, thyme, scallion, salt, Worcestershire, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor, and process for 30 seconds.
  3. Spread the mixture under the turkey skin. Let the turkey rest in the refrigerator, covered, for 1 day.
  4. Make the Pork and Beef Stuffing a day ahead if you will be stuffing the turkey with it; if you will be serving it alongside, you can make it the same day you cook the turkey: In a food processor place the beef, pork, onion, cup of the raisins, scallion, cilantro, parsley, mustard, thyme, capers, garlic, and pepper, and process to a smooth consistency.
  5. Cook the bacon until crispy. Set the fat aside and crumble the bacon into small pieces. The pork fat may be used if the beef is too dry and you want to add 2 tablespoons of it; otherwise discard.
  6. Remove the meat mixture from the processor and place it into a medium pot or caldero*. Add the crumbled bacon, prunes, and olives. Cook over mediumhigh heat, stirring to break up any clumps, about 15 minutes or until the beef and pork are completely cooked.
  7. While the meat mixture is cooking, in a small pot place the remaining ¾ cup of raisins and the cognac. Cook over medium heat until the raisins absorb the cognac and plump up. Add them to the meat mixture.
  8. Reduce the heat of the pot to medium and add the Port, apples, and almonds. Taste for salt, and add more if necessary.
  9. In the food processor bowl, place the bread slices and process to get crumbs. Remove from the processor and place them into a small bowl. Add the eggs and mix them together. Add to the meat mixture and cook for 4 to 5 minutes.
  10. Remove the pot from the heat. If you will use it the next day, let the stuffing cool and then refrigerate it. Do not stuff the turkey with hot stuffing, and do not stuff the turkey the day before roasting it! Only stuff the turkey right before you roast it!
  11. If serving the stuffing alongside the turkey right after cooking, place it on a nice platter and serve immediately. To reheat, place the filling in an ovenproof serving container and bake for 30 to 40 minutes a 375°F.
  12. Remove the turkey from the refrigerator at least 1 or 2 hours before cooking, to bring it back to room temperature.
  13. If stuffing the turkey, do it now. Truss the turkey, tying the legs last. Place it on a rack in a roasting pan. Pour the beer and 2 cups of water into the bottom of the pan.

Roasting Method 1

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Put the turkey in, and decrease the heat to 325°F. Bake for 20 minutes per pound if stuffed, or 16 minutes per pound if not.

Roasting Method 2

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the turkey in the oven and bake until golden brown, about 45 minutes; cover with foil and reduce the temperature to 325°F and cook 3 to 3½ hours more.
  2. Whichever method you use to roast the turkey, it is done when after pinching the thickest part of the thigh, the liquid runs clear and not pink. The internal temperature at the thigh of the bird should be 160 to 180°F. Let rest 30 minutes before carving and serving. While the turkey is resting, make the gravy.
  3. Remove all the fat from the juices in the roasting pan. Measure the liquid and place it in a pot.
  4. For each cup of liquid, add 1 tablespoon of butter mixed with 1 tablespoon of flour. Cook to thicken, stirring occasionally, about 5 to 10 minutes.
  5. Taste and season with salt and pepper and serve.