Island Holiday Feast

In my family, the holiday time is all about creative cuisine! We shy away from the traditional Christmas fare and opt for unique dishes with bold flavors. This year, we’re planning to infuse our Christmas dinner with an Island theme. Therefore, Cuba, Jamaica and Puerto Rico will all be represented. This is one of my favorite holiday meal ideas to date and can’t wait to taste these incredible flavors. If you are looking for something unique to serve at your festive feast, give one of these Island recipes a try!

Jamaican Rum Cake

Cuban Style Turkey
Serves 8

Ingredients – Turkey

  • 1(8-12 pound) turkey, giblets removed
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1/3 cup orange juice, fresh squeezed without added sugar is best
  • 1/3 cup Kelapo Coconut Oil, melted
  • 1 large onion, chopped

 Ingredients – Stuffing

  • 1 1/2 cups dried black beans
  • 1/4 cup Kelapo Coconut Oil for sautéing
  • 6 strips uncured bacon, chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups red or white onion, diced
  • 2 1/2 cups green peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 3 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 3 cups long-grain white rice
  • 1/2 cup white wine


Cuban Style Turkey

The night before…

  1. Prepare the marinade by mixing together all the ingredients listed in the “Turkey” ingredient section
  2. Rub the turkey inside and out with the marinade. Place the turkey in a roasting pan, cover, and marinate in the refrigerator 12-24 hours.
  3. You will also want to soak the dry black beans in salted water overnight.

The day of…

  1. Two hours before you would like to start roasting the turkey, begin the stuffing.
  2. Drain and rinse the soaked beans. Add the beans in a medium saucepan with enough water to cover them – about 3 or 4 cups of water.
  3. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and cook until tender, about 40 to 50 minutes. Drain.
  4. Rinse the rice with cold water until the water runs clear.
  5. Using a large, covered stockpot, sauté the bacon, onion and green pepper in the coconut oil until tender.
  6. Add the garlic, and sauté another minute or two.
  7. Add the tomato paste, black beans, oregano, cumin, bay leaf, and honey. Cook for about five minutes, stirring gently.
  8. Add the chicken stock and the rinsed rice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and for about 20-30 minutes, or until rice is fully cooked.
  9. Finally, adjust the seasonings by adding salt and pepper to taste. Remove the bay leaf.
  10. Stuff the turkey with the bean and rice mixture.
  11. Pour white wine over the top of the turkey.
  12. Follow the cooking instructions that come with the turkey. Typically you want to do a slow roast at 325° F until fully cooked.
  13. Carve and serve.

Puerto Rican Mofongo

In Puerto Rico, Mofongo is pretty much the most popular rice dish on the island. It is a little sweet, a little salty, yet incredibly light. Even better – it is simple to make!


  • 4 green plantains (medium-large)
  • 1 pound of chicharrón (crunchy pork skin)
  • 3 garlic cloves, mashed
  • 4 teaspoons of Kelapo Coconut Oil
  • 2 cups Kelapo Coconut Oil (for frying)


  1. Peel the plantains then cut them into 1 1/2-inch slices.
  2. Soak the plantains in salty water for 20 minutes, drain them, and dry them.
  3. Add the 2 cups of coconut oil to a large frying pan and heat the oil over medium heat.
  4. Gently add the plantain slices and fry them for about 12 minutes at medium-low heat or until they turn light brown. Make sure to turn them. Do not brown them too much. You want them easy to mash.
  5. Remove the plantains and mash them. If you have children, this is a great things for them to do. Add some mashed garlic and pieces of chicharrón.
  6. Once you have mashed all the plantains, mold them into the shape of half sphere, a patty, or a flattened ball. Serve hot.

Jamaican Style Rum Cake (Rum Optional)

Traditional Jamaican style run cakes are not something you whip up last minute. Islanders soak the dried fruits in port wine and rum at the beginning of each year to use at the end of each year. However, some will take a shortcut and do a quick soak of 4 weeks in length. If you do not have the luxury of time, this recipe is a great rum cake that can be made last minute with or without the rum.


  • 2 cups Kelapo Coconut Oil
  • 1-1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 9 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup rum (this is optional but you will need to substitute with another liquid like milk or coconut milk)
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon almond extract
  • 2 pounds chopped dried mixed fruit (for best results use a combination of raisins, currants, golden raisins, and prunes)
  • 1 cup dark molasses
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups all-purpose flour OR 1/2 cup coconut flour sifted
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch salt


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Put a small layer of coconut oil and flour around 2 – 9 inch round baking pans so the batter will not stick to the baking pan.
  3. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, mix together coconut oil and sugar until light and fluffy.
  5. Beat in eggs, then add rum if using, lime juice, vanilla and almond extract. Add the dried fruit to mixture.
  6. Add molasses.
  7. Sift together flour, baking powder, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, and salt. Fold into batter, being careful not to over-mix. If using coconut flour, you may need to add a bit more liquid in order to get it to the right consistency. If it is lumpy, just add a little water, milk, or rum and mix.
  8. Pour into prepared pans.
  9. Bake in preheated oven for 80 to 90 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Jamaicans will often drizzle rum over the top of the cakes and let it set for a day before serving. This is by far my favorite way to use the rum!


Turkey photo credit – Kerry Ann

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