Leftover Turkey Enchiladas

Leftover Turkey Enchiladas

It’s not Thanksgiving for another week. I know. But here’s what else I know: when the day comes, and you eat everything delicious (stuffing, pie, turkey, gravy, potatoes, etc etc etc), there are going to be leftovers. (What’s Thanksgiving without leftovers?!)

And the day after Thanksgiving, maybe you’ll want another round of traditional Thanksgiving fare, but after a few days, you’ll want to mix it up. And you’ll want to be prepared, because going to the store in that moment isn’t the answer (when you are tired from the holiday, and have plenty of turkey in the fridge and just need something to do with it). That’s where this recipe comes in.

(I’m going to admit right now that I’m more excited about using leftover turkey in enchiladas than I am about actual Thanksgiving Turkey right now. Maybe you’re a turkey purist. But this is true: enchiladas are really hard to beat.)

Leftover Turkey Enchiladas

Now, last year when I started making enchiladas more frequently, my dad asked me if I was frying my tortillas. He said, you have to fry your tortillas. It’s far superior. And I remember the days of making enchiladas along side him — him frying the tortillas, and me, stuffing and rolling them and trying to keep up. And they were delicious.

But this recipe doesn’t ask you to do that. What’s with that? Well, this recipe is a more “get these enchiladas made tonight,” “get dinner on the table,” type of recipe. Frying tortillas definitely takes a bit more commitment (and you must deal with that dreaded pot of hot, used oil when you are done!). And you know what? Even when you skip the frying part, they’re still delicious.

So if you, like me, are trying to get dinner on the table, or hate slaving over a pot of boiling oil, try the sauce method. The sauce method is just easy enough that suddenly making enchiladas is something I do on a slow afternoon, rather than a production that requires planning and multiple hands and a commitment to the craft. Simplifying that one step makes enchiladas just that much more accessible for me.

If you do want to fry your tortillas (🙌 good work!) you’ll have to change up step 4 in the recipe below. You’ll need to heat up a pan with enough frying oil to dip a tortilla into it, and you’ll want to set up a place to let the fried to tortillas drain. We always used a plat stacked with paper towels, which soak up excess grease. Once the oil is hot, you’ll want to use tongs to place tortillas one at a time in the hot oil. Fry for 5 seconds on each side, and then set on the prepared plate. Many hands make for fast work. The reason why this was practical (and fun!) when I was a kid was that there were two of us: my dad would do the frying while I would do the stuffing. If you don’t have the luxury of a friend or helper in the kitchen, you can fry all the tortillas, placing them in a stack, and then stuff them. Placing them in a stack will help keep them soft. But again, if you just want some enchiladas now, use the sauce method in the recipe below.

Leftover Turkey Enchiladas

P.S. The turquoise casserole dish in these images is my newest kitchen toy, and I love a) how well it cooks things, b) it’s rustic style, and c) the color. I got it on Amazon (affiliate link!).

P.S.S. Enchiladas SCREAM Christmas to me. I guess it’s a family thing. So, you can also use chicken in this recipe if you no longer have leftover turkey around. I use chicken in enchiladas all the time!

Leftover Turkey Enchiladas

Published November 13, 2018 by
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Serves: 6-8   |    Active Time: 60 minutes



Ingredients:

  • 3 cups shredded leftover turkey or chicken breast
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup minced cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • To assemble:
  • 2 cups enchilada sauce
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded cheese (try Colby Cheese, Monterrey Jack Cheese or a mix of the two)
  • 16-20 six-inch corn tortillas

  • Directions:

    1. In a skillet, heat the coconut oil over medium heat until it sizzles. Sauté onion and garlic in oil until onions are translucent, and then remove from heat.
    2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine: shredded turkey, onion and garlic, cilantro, salt, cumin, oregano, and chili powder. Mix to combine and set aside.
    3. Preheat oven to 350°F. While the oven heats, assemble the enchiladas.
    4. Work with one tortilla at a time. Dip a tortilla into the enchilada sauce and allowing the tortilla to soften for 20-30 seconds. This helps the tortillas from cracking as you roll them (they still might a little bit, though once it's all baked up no one will know). Then, scoop 2-3 tablespoons of the turkey mixture into the middle of the tortilla, and roll it around the filling. Place the rolled enchilada seam-side down in a baking dish.
    5. Repeat step 4 until all of the turkey and tortilla mixture is used. Then, pour remaining enchilada sauce over the enchiladas, and top with shredded cheese.
    6. Bake enchiladas for 20 minutes, until cheese and sauce are bubbling and edges of tortillas are starting to crisp.
    7. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, and then garnish with minced cilantro and serve warm.

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    Red Chili Enchilada Sauce

    Red Chili Enchilada Sauce

    This is a bit of a teaser for what’s to come on Thursday — for simplicity sake, I wanted to break out the instructions for the sauce and another recipe (plus, there are plenty of ways to use this sauce!). And no… enchiladas are not on the docket! (Though that reminds me I should make some enchiladas soon). In any case, my lips are sealed. You’ll see Thursday’s recipe soon enough!

    I first “dared” to make my own enchilada sauce while I was working in a restaurant in college. I was not the saucier, or anything close to it — more like waitress that occasionally helped with some baking - but when I was baking, I would watch the happenings of the kitchen while I slowly stirred a caramel, weighed flours, or chilled dough. It just so happened that my station was right next to the saucier, and that is what gave me the confidence to make this sauce.

    Red Chili Enchilada Sauce

    First, I realized that the marvelous sauce that was used for braising pork was as simple as puréeing some select ingredients in the blender — and then, I realized that said sauce was pretty darn close to enchilada sauce. I did a little bit of reading and next thing you know I was blending enchilada sauce every week (even without the blender lid on one time… but we’ll save that messy story for another time).

    You can use this sauce for oh so many more things than enchiladas (though using it in these leftover turkey enchiladas is perfect). In fact, I started using it to braise beef (Oofta! That recipe is old — please forgive those grainy photos. Oh what a difference three years makes), but now I’m much more into making enchilada casseroles or huevos rancheros with salsa rojo.

    Sauce is the start of many a great dish. More sauce! If any of you have ever watched Chopped, you know the judges are always talking about sauce, and with good reason. 😋

    Red Chili Enchilada Sauce

    Red Chili Enchilada Sauce

    Published September 25, 2018 by
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    Serves: 2 cups   |    Active Time: 20 minutes



    Ingredients:

  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 sixteen-oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup broth (chicken, beef or veggie)
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cracked pepper

  • Directions:

    1. Heat coconut oil over medium-high heat in a skillet on the stove. When the oil glistens, add onion and garlic and sauté until onions are transparent and starting to brown. Remove from heat.
    2. In a blender (I use a Blendtec - affiliate link!), combine onions and garlic, diced tomatoes, broth, chili powder, cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper. Secure lid on blender and purée.
    3. Use sauce immediately or store in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to a week.

    2 Comments

    Green Chicken & Veggie Enchiladas

    Green Chicken & Veggie Enchiladas

    I've eaten and enjoyed many a taco salad bowl. But, it's never quite the same as slicing into a tried and true enchilada. When you are craving a real-deal enchilada, there's just nothing that can take it's place. There's gotta be cheese, and plenty of it. You can take your pick of red or green sauce, but you just can not skip the tortillas with crispy edges. Take your pick of tortilla... which ever way you choose to go, you're in good shape:

    • I used regular corn tortillas, which when made the traditional way are treated so they are easier to digest. (As I explained in Foraged Breakfast, some things just are meant to be exactly as they always have been: You can try to health-ify Tex-Mex food, but it doesn't always work out).

    • But.... there are some great almond flour-based tortillas available at the grocery store these days: Look for Siete Foods (affiliate link!) and don't skip the frying in step number 4, because it will help prevent crumbling).

    To me, enchiladas are a quintessential Christmas food, because they speak to my Southern-Colorado roots and the food eaten in those parts. For this dish I opted for just green sauce, but you can also alternate green sauce and red sauce, a style of enchilada known as "Christmas."

    Green Chicken & Veggie Enchiladas
    Green Chicken & Veggie Enchiladas

    Making enchiladas is a family affair, something best done when there are plenty of hands to share in the work and the eating. I made this batch with just my own two hands, so while you don't need the help, it's fun to have some one join you in the kitchen. I have fond memories of working with my dad in an enchilada assembly line: he would fry the tortillas, and I would stuff and roll them, placing them into a casserole dish. Faster and faster we would go, each trying to out-enchilada the other, until the tortillas were gone. 

    You can stuff them with just about anything (pork, cheese, beans), but I opted for a mix of shredded chicken and roasted veggies. I suppose adding in veggies was my way of health-ifying them without missing out on what's important to me in an enchilada. 

    So! From my kitchen to yours, here's the whole darn enchilada. Happy Winter Solstice!

    Green Chicken & Veggie Enchiladas

    Green Chicken & Veggie Enchiladas

    Published December 19, 2017 by
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    Serves: 8   |    Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes



    Ingredients:

    • 1 batch green chile sauce
    • 1 chicken breast, cooked and shredded (1/3 to 1/2 pound)
    • 1 bell pepper, diced
    • 1 summer squash or zucchini, diced
    • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese for filling and 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese for top
    • 6 tortillas (try corn tortillas or these grain-free almond flour tortillas (affiliate link))
    • 1/4 cup high heat cooking oil, such as avocado or coconut, plus 1 tablespoon for cooking vegetables
    • Optional, for serving: chopped greens such as romaine, sliced fresh peppers for color, and minced cilantro or green onions for garnish

    Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 375°F, and grease an 9x16inch casserole pan.
    2. Toss diced bell pepper, zucchini, onion, and garlic in 1 tablespoon oil. Place in oven and roast for 15 minutes. Set aside and allow to cool.
    3. In a large bowl, combine shredded chicken, roasted vegetables, 1/2 cup cheese (make sure the veggies have cooled, or the cheese will melt right away!), salt, and pepper. Mix until everything is evenly distributed.
    4. Assembly: heat 1/4 cup oil in a skillet on the stove until it sizzles. Using tongs, place one tortilla at a time in the oil, cooking until it begins to puff up, and then flip, cooking about 1 minute more on the other side. Lift tortilla with tongs from the oil, and allow access to drip off back into the pan. Place tortilla on a paper towel to drain for at least 30 seconds. Then, scoop about 1/4 cup of the chicken mixture into the center line of the tortilla and roll the tortilla up. Place roll seam-side down in casserole dish.
    5. Repeat step 4 until all tortillas are used, nestling each enchilada into the pan.
    6. Pour sauce over enchiladas, and then top with cheese.
    7. Bake for 20 minutes, or until sauce is bubbling, cheese is melted, and edges of tortillas begin to crisp. Serve hot on a bed of chopped greens, and garnish with sliced peppers, cilantro, and/or green onion.

    2 Comments