Yes, it’s another “leftover turkey” post. Not because I have that much turkey. (I might after Thanksgiving though – and if I do, I’ll happily make these again.) I’m sharing this post with you because they’re that good. Honestly, they are good any time of year, with just about any filling. Leftover chicken? Great. Ground beef, turkey, pork, chicken? Awesome. Beans and cheese? Wonderful. In fact, I make a version of these throughout the year using ground beef or turkey and a can of black beans. The beauty of the recipe is that it’s flexible. I like flexible.
I’ve posted enchiladas here before. (and here.) And while those are both good recipes, (I’ve since subbed in corn tortillas to make them gluten-free. Besides, corn tortillas are just better in my opinion.) I have worked throughout the year to improve upon them. Specifically, I’ve worked to improve the enchilada sauce. Why? Because I can’t leave well enough alone. I always have to improve, experiment, and explore flavors. I wanted an enchilada sauce that intrigued the taste buds with a wonderful depth of flavor and a nice heat – not too hot. Finally, I have found it. I think. At least, for now.
This sauce does not use tomatoes in it, as some Tex-Mex red sauces do. Instead, I have opted to use a number of various dried chiles as the base. I could wax poetic about my love for dried chiles. They store in my pantry quite well. They smell amazing. The flavor they contribute is far superior to any store-bought chile powder. In my opinion, they are worth the extra time and effort to use them. I found quite a few varieties at Wal-Mart, but you can usually find the widest variety at a grocery that caters to the Latin American community. You can also find them online. In this sauce I used a combination of ancho, New Mexico, guajillo, pasilla, and chipotle peppers. You can certainly streamline and use fewer varieties, or change it up and use other chiles, but I enjoyed the combination – it added depth and complexity to the sauce.
Another note – when toasting the chiles, it’s probably a good idea to open a window or two. The aroma of the chiles can be overpowering – it makes me sneeze! Again, totally worth it – promise!
These aren’t quite authentic Mexican enchiladas, nor are they true Tex-Mex. I’d like to think I made a new “Tex-Mex” version, taking what I love best about both cuisines and interpreting it in this delicious version. Whatever they are, I hope you’ll agree that they are a wonderful way to enjoy your turkey leftovers!
3 dried chipotle chiles
5 dried guajillo chiles
3 dried New Mexico chiles
3 dried pasilla chiles
3 dried ancho chiles
2 T olive oil
1/2 onion, sliced (I used red, but you could use any variety)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
salt to taste
1 lb leftover turkey, shredded (can substitute chicken, browned ground beef/chicken/turkey, or additional beans)
1 t ground cumin
1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
4 oz cream cheese
2 1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese (or a mix of cheddar and monterey jack)
salt and pepper to taste
Vegetable oil for shallow frying
12-16 corn tortillas
Cilantro and sour cream for garnish (optional)
Begin by removing the stems and seeds from the chiles. Tear the chiles into large pieces. Heat a non-stick skillet to medium heat (I used my trusty cast-iron skillet). Heat another medium saucepan full of water to a simmer. Place the chiles, skin-side up, a few at a time, on the dry skillet. Toast for about 10 seconds and remove and place in the saucepan. Repeat with remaining chiles, toasting in batches. Allow chiles to simmer in water for 20-30 minutes or until soft. (Make sure that the chiles are covered with the water. I usually use a spoon or a spatula to keep them submerged.)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Meanwhile, bring a skillet to medium heat and add olive oil. When oil is shimmering, add onions and garlic. Saute for 10 minutes or until soft. If they start to brown, reduce heat a little.
Remove chiles from the soaking water with tongs and place in a blender, leaving the water in the pan. Add the onions and garlic, leaving as much of the oil in the skillet as possible, and add about 1 1/2 cups of the chile soaking liquid. Blend until smooth, adding more soaking liquid if needed. The sauce should resemble the consistency of canned tomato sauce. Pass the sauce through a fine-meshed sieve and discard the pulp. Pour the strained sauce back into the saucepan and place on low heat. Salt to taste.
Add the shredded turkey to the remaining oil in the skillet and reduce heat to medium-low. Season with cumin, and stir occasionally until heated. Spoon about 1/2 cup of the chile sauce into the shredded turkey, and add the beans, cream cheese, and 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until cheese is melted. Salt and pepper to taste. (If you’re using ground meat instead, you can brown it in the oil, and follow the rest of these steps as written.)
In a small skillet, add enough frying oil to cover the bottom of the skillet by 1/2 inch. Heat oil on medium heat until shimmering. Fry tortillas, one at a time, 7-10 seconds on each side of the tortilla. Lay tortillas on paper towels to drain. (This process helps make the tortillas pliable and less likely to tear and break when rolling.)
To assemble the enchiladas, dip a tortilla into the chile sauce and remove, allowing excess sauce to drip back into the saucepan. Place about 2-3 tablespoons of the shredded turkey mixture in a line down the center of the tortilla. Roll up the tortilla and place it seam-side down in a 13X9 baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Top with a bit more sauce down the center of the enchiladas, and sprinkle the shredded cheese over.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until browned and bubbly. Garnish with cilantro and sour cream, if desired.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I sincerely wish the best for you and your family this holiday. Be happy, safe, and enjoy the gifts of life. I am thankful for all of you! Without you, there would be no Tasty Eats At Home. Have a wonderful holiday.