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The Best Christmas Turkey from Spain

In other parts of the world, such as the United States, roasted turkey is a classic Thanksgiving meal. 

However, when you are in the south of Spain, turkey is actually one of the most popular foods for Christmas eve dinner or Christmas lunch.

The Pavo Navideño, or as it is known in English, Christmas turkey, is a classic meal on this holiday, and there isn’t a household in Andalusia that doesn’t enjoy it.

The Best Christmas Turkey from Spain

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Keep reading this article as I’ll show you how to make the Spanish turkey recipe, the best ways to store leftovers or preserve the Pavo Navideño before eating it.

I will offer you some tips to serve it as well as other traditional Christmas dinner ideas.

Background of the Dish

christmas turkey

The Christmas turkey actually originates from America. It is believed that in the Aztec empire it was a tradition to eat turkey during the winter solstice, which is only a few days before Christmas in our current calendar.

The European conquerors got to know this food thanks to the Aztecs, and given the similarity between the solstice and Christmas, they decided to transform this recipe into a Christmas turkey dinner.

Today, this dish is popular throughout the south of Spain, and in each home, families add their personal touch to the recipe, which is why all Christmas turkey recipes are unique.

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Are you interested in trying the Christmas Turkey recipe from Spain? The Pavo Navideño is a stuffed turkey, prepared in Andalusian style. This Spanish turkey recipe is the perfect Christmas turkey dinner idea and it's also easy to prepare. Pavo Navideño is a traditional Christmas food in Spain and is served on Christmas Eve together with other Spanish specialties. A savory and finger-licking Christmas turkey that you must try! #christmasturkey #pavonavideño #christmasdinnerrecipe #stuffedturkey

Things You’ll Need for the Christmas Turkey

The Pavo Navideño is a traditional Christmas food, but thankfully it isn’t hard to make. 

Of course, it takes some time to cook, but apart from that, it’s pretty easy and anyone can make this dish. 

The main ingredient is, of course, the turkey, and the rest of them are pretty much replaceable. 

Besides that, there are different ways to cook a turkey but since here we are making pavo al horno, you only need a deep tray as the equipment. 

christmas turkey dinner

Ingredients

  • 1 large turkey (at least 4kg)
  • 1/2 kilo of lean minced pork.
  • 4 onions.
  • 1 1/3 cups (200g) prunes.
  • 1 cup (100g) bread crumbs.
  • 1 cup (240ml) milk
  • 1/2 cup (100ml) sherry wine.
  • 1 cup (200ml) white wine.
  • 3 tablespoons flour or cornstarch
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

How to Make the Christmas Turkey – Step by Step Guide

stuffed turkey
  1. To start with this Christmas turkey recipe,  you should debone the turkey, but this can be difficult if you’ve never done it before, so the best thing you can do is skip this step and buy a boneless turkey or ask them to debone it.
  1. Then put the prunes to marinate with the sherry wine so they get that flavor. Also, put the breadcrumbs with the milk in a bowl so they absorb it.
  1. Chop the onion and put it in a pan with a little oil. Soften them but only until they are transparent, don’t let them brown. You can cook them with oil, butter, or the best way is with olive oil. 
  1. Mix all the ingredients with the lean minced pork and make a ball with them. You should add salt and pepper to taste.
  1. Fill the turkey with all the stuffing that is prepared. It does not matter if you think it is a lot, since later while it cooks it can release juices and be a little less than what it was before.
  1. Cooking a stuffed turkey can be intimidating, but all you have to do is to bridle it with some thread (like wrapping it) to prevent it from losing its shape during cooking. 
  1. Spread a little butter or olive oil on top and put it in the oven at 180°C for 2 hours. Every 20 minutes make sure to moisten it with the juice that is released, so it doesn’t dry out. This is essential because the turkey is dry.
  1. Now you have to deglaze the tray where you cooked the turkey. Make sure to use a deep tray that holds juices, since now you will have to take the white wine, put it on the tray along with a cup of water and the flour or cornstarch. Put that in the oven again or on the stove and bring it to a boil, so you will have your gravy.
  1. Make sure that the turkey doesn’t lose its heat, or take it to the oven for a couple of minutes before serving it. Put the gravy in a smaller bowl and serve it on the table with the hot turkey. You can cut the turkey into slices so it is easier to serve.

Substitution of Ingredients

spanish turkey recipe

The stuffed turkey is one of the most popular Christmas meals and I’ll show you the Spanish version of Pavo Navideño.

You can take inspiration from other unique turkey recipes to make changes in the ingredients.

For example, you can add more vegetables to the stuffing, such as boiled potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, and any type of bell pepper. 

You can also add some garlic, rosemary, and any type of herbs of your choice. 

You could also skip the stuffing altogether and put inside the Christmas turkey an Andalusian orange cut in half.

You can try other Spanish Christmas eve dinners recipes, such as the Spanish turron, or the delightful Spanish seafood stew and Spanish seafood soup.

Tips on Serving the Christmas Turkey

traditional christmas dinner ideas

If you were looking for Christmas eve food ideas, then let me tell you that you are in the right place. 

The Pavo Navideño is a classic Christmas eve dinner, so you can serve it at that wonderful time of the year.

For a real Andalusian Christmas dinner, you can start with  Spanish deviled eggs, followed by Picadillo soup.

Also, grilled prawns can’t be missed from the perfect Christmas dinner.

Of course, you can eat it any day, and serve it with different side dishes. For example, you can make a more American version of this dinner and serve it with apple or blueberry puree, or even with cornbread. 

How to Store the Christmas Turkey

How to Store the Christmas Turkey

As well as other Christmas eve recipes, you can make this dish ahead and eat it during the special day.

This is perfect because you can spend more time with your loved ones.

You can make this Pavo Navideño a couple of days before it and store it in the fridge. 

It can last up to 3 days because otherwise the meat will be too dry and it’ll be hard to eat.

If you have any turkey leftover, then you can freeze it for up to 15 days without any problem. 

Recipe Card: Christmas Turkey Recipe from Spain

Yield: 12

Christmas Turkey Recipe

christmas turkey recipes

In other parts of the world, such as the United States, roasted turkey is a classic Thanksgiving meal. 

However, when you are in the south of Spain, turkey is actually one of the most popular foods for Christmas eve dinner or Christmas lunch.

The Pavo Navideño is a classic meal on this holiday, and there isn't a household in Andalusia that doesn't enjoy it.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 large turkey (at least 4kg)
  • 1/2 kilo of lean minced pork.
  • 4 onions.
  • 1 1/3 cups (200g) prunes.
  • 1 cup (100g) bread crumbs.
  • 1 cup (240ml) milk
  • 1/2 cup (100ml) sherry wine.
  • 1 cup (200ml) white wine.
  • 3 tablespoons flour or cornstarch
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Instructions

  1. The first step would be to debone the turkey, but this can be difficult if you've never done it before, so the best thing you can do is save this step by buying a boneless turkey.
  2. Put the prunes to marinate with the sherry wine so they get that flavor. Also, put the breadcrumbs with the milk in a bowl so they absorb it.
  3. Chop the onion and put it in a pan with a little oil. Soften them but only until they are transparent, don't let them brown.
  4. Mix all the ingredients with the lean minced pork and make a ball with them. You should add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Fill the turkey with all the stuffing that is prepared. It does not matter if you think it is a lot, since later while it cooks it can release juices and be a little less than what it was before.
  6. Put some type of thread wrapping in the turkey (bridle it) to prevent it from losing its shape during cooking. Spread a little butter or olive oil on top and put it in the oven at 180 ° C for 2 hours. Every 20 minutes make sure to moisten it with the juice that is released, so it does not dry out. This is essential because the turkey is dry.
  7. Now you have to deglaze the tray where you cooked the turkey. Make sure to use a deep tray that holds juices, since now you will have to take the white wine, put it on the tray along with a cup of water and the flour or cornstarch. Put that in the oven again or on the stove and bring it to a boil, so you will have your gravy.
  8. Put the gravy in a smaller bowl and serve it on the table with the hot turkey. You can cut the turkey into slices so it is easier to serve.

Notes

You can replace the water on step 7 (gravy) with any type of broth. However, water is better because the broth can make it too salty.

Nutrition Information

Yield

12

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 834.7Total Fat 40.4gCholesterol 311.4mgSodium 592.6mgCarbohydrates 15.6gFiber 0.8gSugar 1.8gProtein 95g

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How long to cook a stuffed turkey?

Well as you can see on this recipe and in other Christmas turkey recipes, the perfect time to cook a stuffed turkey is 2 hours at 180°C.

Of course, the time and temperature might vary according to your oven, but that is the perfect amount.

What are the best herbs for turkey?

The Spanish Pavo Navideño doesn’t call for any particular herb, but the best ones are rosemary or parsley. You can also add some garlic if you like that flavor.



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