Salvadoran Turkey Sandwich (Panes con Pavo)

  • Serves

    serves 6


Turkeys were "thoroughly domesticated by the Aztecs and other Mexican and Central American races long before the arrival of Europeans", according to A. Hyatt Verrill in Foods America Gave the World (L. C. Page, 1937). Proof positive: this gently spiced turkey sandwich, ubiquitous in El Salvador.


  • 1 12 cups light beer
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp. sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp. pepitas (dried pumpkin seeds; optional)
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 12 tsp. annatto seeds
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 2 large turkey drumsticks (about 4 lbs.)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 medium tomatoes, cored and chopped
  • 2 small yellow onions, 1 chopped, 1 thinly sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
  • 6 (6") crusty Italian bread loaves, ends trimmed, split in half lengthwise
  • 1 bunch watercress


Step 1

Preheat oven to 350°. Purée beer, oil, peppercorns, sesame seeds, pepitas, oregano, annatto, garlic, bay leaves, and 1 cup water in a blender. Combine purée and turkey in a dutch oven; season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil on the stove, cover, and braise until turkey is very tender, about 2 hours.

Step 2

Purée tomatoes, chopped onions, peppers, and 1 cup water in blender. Transfer turkey to a plate (leave sauce in pot); let cool. Add purée to pot; boil over medium-high heat, stirring often, until thickened, about 45 minutes. Discard skin and bones from turkey; tear meat into thick pieces. Stir turkey into sauce, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Divide stew between loaves; garnish with sliced onions and watercress.

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