Turkey enchilada casserole

Ix-nay on the turkey soup, it's time to cook something a little different to use up those leftovers.

With folks still hanging around over the weekend, turn your leftovers into a spicy casserole. Traditional enchiladas are made with corn tortillas that are first fried, then coated in sauce, filled, and rolled. I break only one rule, and that is to ‘oven fry’ the tortillas instead of frying them in oil on the stove, which is a deal breaker for most of us. The frying actually serves to keep the tortillas from cracking when filled, but with some experimentation, I found that a light coating of oil and a few minutes in the oven accomplish the same goal.

Green sauce goes well with any kind of poultry (you could substitute chicken), and here it is made with tomatillos, pale green, firm fruits that are covered with a papery husk and a slightly sticky residue that must be removed. Their flavor is lemony tart and they pair well with the mild spice of poblano peppers and the heat of jalapenos. As in many Mexican sauces, once pureed, the sauce is simmered in a pan for a few minutes to blend the flavors. The thick Mexican cream (crema) that would be used here is not easy to obtain, but easy enough to replicate with sour cream thinned with milk. You can find cotija, a salty, crumbly Mexican cheese in some markets, but Parmesan makes a fine substitute. All’s well that ends well, and this feisty casserole rounds out a weekend of feasting in an unexpected way.

p.s. I'm going to let you in on a secret. When I'm feeling lazy and want to make this in a hurry, I use tomatillo sauce from a jar (!) (Frontera Grill). That's it. Everything else is the same. 

Rest up my friends, and enjoy your weekend.

Turkey enchilada casserole
Serves 6


3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 pounds tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and halved crosswise
1/2 white onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 poblano chiles, halved and seeded
2 jalapeno peppers, halved and seeded
1 large handful fresh cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup turkey or chicken stock

1. In a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Spread the tomatillos, cut side down, in the pan. Cook, turning with tongs, for 4 to 5 minutes on a side, or until lightly charred. Transfer to a blender jar.

2. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to the pan and return to the heat. Add the onion and garlic. Place the poblanos and jalapenos with the skin sides down. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until lightly charred. Transfer to the blender jar. Add the cilantro, salt, and stock to the jar, and puree until smooth.

3. In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the pureed sauce to the pan and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add more water or stock, 2 tablespoons at a time, if sauce seems thick.

3/4 cup sour cream
3 to 4 tablespoons milk
12 corn tortillas
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups shredded cooked turkey (from about 3 pounds uncooked turkey)
1 1/4 cups grated Monterey jack cheese
1/2 cup crumbled cotija, or grated Parmesan cheese (for garnish)
4 thinly sliced radishes (for garnish)
Cilantro leaves (for garnish)

1. Set the oven at 375 degrees. Lightly oil two 3-quart, shallow baking dishes. Have on hand a rimmed baking sheet and a dinner plate.

2. In a bowl, stir together the sour cream and enough milk to bring it to the consistency of thick cream.

3. In a separate bowl, toss the shredded turkey with 1/2 cup of the sauce.

4. On the baking sheet, spread the tortillas (they don’t have to be in one layer.) Drizzle with the oil, and with your hands, lightly rub to coat them in the oil. Bake for 5 to 6 minutes, or until softened. Remove.

5. Spread 1/2 cup sauce in the bottom of each baking dish. Drizzle each with 2 tablespoons of the cream.

6. One at a time, dip, fill and roll the tortillas: Dip a tortilla in the sauce and set it on a plate. Spoon about 1/4 cup turkey filling on one side and roll it up like a cigar. Place in the baking dish with the seam side down. Repeat with remaining tortillas, leaving a small gap between each roll, six enchiladas per pan. Pour the remaining sauce over each baking dish, dividing it evenly between the two pans. Sprinkle each dish the grated Monterey jack, dividing it evenly. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until brown and bubbly.

7.  To serve, drizzle each dish with more cream, and sprinkle with cotija. Top with radishes and cilantro.

©2009-2016 Sally Pasley Vargas. Writing and photography, all rights reserved.










Posted on November 25, 2016 .