Harvest Fest: Celebrating the Island Way

The weather was perfect and people were out in droves at the 16th annual Festival de la Consecha. The event, sponsored by Nuestras Raices at The Land of Providence in Holyoke, Massachusetts last Saturday afternoon, was a grand success.

So much so that my son, JP, and I worried we’d never find a convenient spot to park. The on street parking situation looked unlikely and the nearby high school lot was not full but fairly packed with cars. On our second sweep we were lucky enough to find an available opening just a few hundred feet from the festival entrance. We were feeling great.

The piquant aroma of island cuisine, grilled chicken and penil (spicy pork shoulder) greeted us at the gate. Live music while strolling through the exhibits and gardens made for happy dancing feet. There were lots of fun things to do and watch throughout the afternoon. Succumbing to a plate full of grilled adobo chicken with rice was inevitable.

Adobo is a seasoned salt generously sprinkled or rubbed on chicken, pork and seafood prior to grilling, sauteing, frying or baking. Spanish food markets and supermarkets sell decent prepared commercial blends but homemade is always best. Hint: Many spices like dried thyme and ground cinnamon are sold in large containers and less expensive in the ethnic food aisles of larger food stores.

There are two types of adobo. One is a wet marinade called adobo mojado. It is a mix of crushed garlic, olive oil, salt, black pepper, thyme, citrus juices (often lime but other citrus is used depending on the regional preference) or vinegar or a mix or both citrus and vinegar.

More widely used on the island of Puerto Rico and what was offered at the festival is a dry rub mix, known as adobo seco. Easier to prepare than the wet version and it has a long shelf life. Adobo seco is a dry mix of garlic powder, onion powder, salt, black pepper, dry thyme or oregano and sometimes dried citrus zest or a dash of cinnamon.

I promised you a recipe and so asked the ladies at the food table for the ingredients and instructions. They assured me it was the following simple concoction rubbed on the delish chicken we enjoyed this weekend. Served with saffron rice and beans, it was amazing.

Adobo Seco Dry Rub Mix

1/4 cup salt
1/4 cups garlic powder
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon crushed dried thyme leaves
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground cayenne pepper

Place salt, garlic powder, sugar, chili powder, thyme, black pepper, cayenne pepper into a large bowl. Mix together with a wooden spoon until well blended. Let set in an airtight container at least 24 hours prior to first use to allow flavors to blend. This dry spice mix stores well at room temperature in the airtight container for about three months.

To use, rub dry spice mix under the skin of the chicken pieces, about 1-2 teaspoons per serving. For best results, let stand in the refrigerator for one to two hours before grilling to allow the flavors of the rub to penetrate the meat. Just before grilling sprinkle seasoning on outside of the skin as well. Grill until cooked through, about 15-20 minutes on each side.

This dry rub mix is also an excellent blend for roasting pork and most grilled or baked seafood. Yummy.


  1. You are a superstar for getting and posting this recipe!

    I'm going to try it soon!

  2. Gonna try it without the cayenne!

  3. Goya Foods makes a moja marinade which I use on pork tenderloin and pork chops which is pretty good if you are in a hurry. Will have to try the dry rub.


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