Turkey Enchiladas

One of the things that prompted the start of this blog, back in 2010, was the fact that Bill and I bought a CSA share. Basically, we realized we’d occasionally get more food than we knew how to handle, as well as the occasional food item we couldn’t even identify.

What we didn’t know, that first year, was that our farmer had spent some time in our home state of New Mexico and so also had a taste for some of the foods we grew up on. So, we were delighted to see (and smell!) some Anaheim peppers in one of our boxes way back then.

The truth is that we’re always thrilled to see Anaheims in the box. Even now, into our third year with Tomato Mountain, the things that are so like New Mexico green chiles make us smile. To be honest, we haven’t always known precisely how to use them to eat the food in our memories, but we’ve always found some sort of use for them.

This year, though, we’ve done a lot more experimenting with food from our homeland than ever before. So, when the first three Anaheims showed up in our box, it occurred to me to see if I could peel and roast them and make New Mexican chile rellenos1. I thought this was a fine plan, until our favorite corn tortillas showed up again, very briefly, at the grocery store.

See, for a long time, Bill and I could easily find very good, if not totally fresh, corn tortillas at the store. Then, one day, we found these gloriously fresh, pillowy, soft corn tortillas there and we snatched them up and made something delicious with them. Then? We never saw them again. We were super bummed.

So, you can probably imagine my yelp of glee and surprise when I was out shopping with The Bachelor Cook and I spied our tortillas in their old spot out of the corner of my eye. You can also imagine my absolute delight at grabbing a package and feeling that perfect amount of give once again. Plans? Rellenos? What are those? Enchiladas are where it’s at!

We’ll ignore for the moment, that I’ve possibly made enchiladas twice in my life. And never green chile sauce from scratch. These concerns? They are irrelevant when I have cheese and peppers and corn tortillas in my life.

Some searching lead me to this recipe for chicken enchiladas. A few other recipes looked good too, but this one had entirely stuff I had on hand, or could easily substitute, looked quite tasty, reasonably authentic (to my actually-quite-a-poor-judge mind) and looked easy. That made it the clear winner in the running for which recipe to try.

h2. Ingredients

I made a half batch and minor changes to the recipe linked above. Below is what I actually did.

6 corn tortillas (If you’re curious, the brand we can find & love is El Milagro)
1/2 an onion, chopped (Man, I was so glad I had half an onion sitting around.)

1 garlic clove, chopped

1/2 tomato, chopped

2 tablespoons flour (Yup, this is more than half what she calls for – you’ll see why.)

1 c homemade chicken stock (My jar was almost totally gelled.)

1 c homemade veggie stock

3 Anaheim chiles, roasted, peeled and chopped

~1 tbsp kosher salt

2 c chopped roast chicken (I briefly attempted to shred this, then didn’t have the patience.)

1/2 c non-fat, plain greek yogurt

1/2 c preshredded mozzarella cheese

A glug or two of extra virgin olive oil (Because I never think to grab a second bottle of not-virgin at the store.)

h2. Instructions

Preheat your oven to 350F. Glug some olive oil in the pan and heat it up. Once it’s hot, saute your onion until it’s reasonably soft, then toss in your garlic & 30 seconds later your chopped chiles and tomato. Let those get nice and warm, and then shove it all to the side and attempt to make a roux in the pan with about 1.5 tbsp of flour and 1.5 tbsp oil. Whisk it well, so as to minimize lumps. Once you’ve deceived yourself into thinking it’s a lovely golden brown color due to cooking, and not due to the fact that the oil combines with the flour to make that color basically instantly, dump in both kinds of stock as well as the salt and bring to a low boil/high simmer.

Simmer the sauce for awhile. Simmer. Simmer. Simmer. Eventually decide it’s not thickening enough, and quickly mix up a small amount flour and oil in a bowl, and stir that in. Then grump at yourself for not considering lumps. Stir well, eventually decide the lumps are going away, and simmer some more.

While the sauce is taking far to long to reduce, mix the yogurt and turkey chunks together. Once the sauce is reduced/thickened to your liking, pull it off the heat, and set it aside for a few minutes to cool a touch. Then mix about a third of the chile sauce with the yogurt and turkey, put about a third of it in the bottom of that 8×8 pan you pulled out at the beginning of this, and set the remaining third aside.

If you’ve got super fresh tortillas, you can be lazy and go straight to assembling the enchiladas, knowing they won’t break. If the tortillas aren’t as fresh, heat a heavy skillet over medium heat, and toss each one into the skillet for about 30 seconds to a minute on a side. You’re not trying to cook the tortillas, just heat them enough to soften.

Once they’re all soft, one way or another, commence with stuffing them. Put a heaping tablespoon of filling in the center of each tortilla, then roll them up, leaving the ends open. Place them “seam” side down in the prepared pan.

Soon, you’ll have all the tortillas filled and probably a little bit of leftover filling. Put the leftover filling in the fridge to eat over salad tomorrow. Trust me. Grab the sauce you’d set aside and pour it evenly over all those delicious looking tortillas. Then sprinkle the cheese all over everything, pop them in the oven for about 20 minutes, and wander off. When the timer (or smoke alarm) goes off to tell you your 20 minutes is up, check & see if the cheese is golden and bubbly. If so, pull them out. If not, let them go for another 5 minutes or so.

Serve, two per person to start. Spoon any sauce from the bottom on top of the enchiladas. Yes, they are a bit floppy and messy. Messy is part of what makes food fun.

h2. Cooking and Consumption Notes

h3. Cooking

This is a totally straightforward recipe, which is nice. Given my natural resistance to cooking when I was growing up, and the fact that my mother never made New Mexican food (we entirely ate it out), I have no idea if most New Mexican recipes are straightforward, or if I’ve just gotten lucky in my early experiments. However, I can state categorically that this is a basically easy recipe, except for that “reduce it down” part.

Here’s the honest truth, folks. I am truly terrible at making any sauce of any sort thick enough for me. I used to think it was a lack of patience, and I suppose it might be, but I have often let sauces go for ages, quite visibly reduce by half or more, and still be very thin. So, make sure to make the roux and make more of it than you think you need. Furthermore, it’s okay if you basically just toss it in and go. The lighter the roux, I’m told, the better it’s ability to thicken your sauce, but the more likely you are to have a raw flour taste in your dish. This dish seems to simmer long enough that even my not-a-roux-raw-flour-and-oil combo cooked up with no flour taste.

So, what are the real downsides to this recipe, in terms of cooking? There’s really only one thing, as far as I’m concerned, and you may not consider it a downside.

There’s just not nearly enough chile sauce. I think. See the footnote below1 for why I don’t totally trust my judgment on cooking these things.

However, I know that my brain says the enchiladas should have looked roughly like this. Instead, they looked more like the photo below. Exactly like it, in fact, as that’s a photo of them just out of the oven.

So. I don’t know. But I think they could have been more smothered & that would have been all around better.

h3. Consumption

Guys? The filling tasted SO GOOD as I was stealing it out of the bowl tasting it for seasoning. The chile sauce was also super lovely, even though it had no heat whatsoever. I was bummed, but not totally surprised at the lack of heat. I mean, where do I think I am? New Mexico?

Unfortunately, all that amazing flavor? Completely gone in the final dish. Seriously. These were completely boring. I have no idea why, since the building blocks were so good! I’m convinced, completely, that this is not the recipe but operator error. I don’t know if it’s that I didn’t use the right cheese (seems unlikely to be the culprit, though it doesn’t help) or the fact that the chiles weren’t terribly hot (same). Maybe it was just that the yogurt was non-fat?

I just don’t know, but I’m bummed. These had such potential, and to be completely washed out at the end was miserable.

That said, I had the leftover filling (alone) for lunch the next day. It was still really tasty. So, not a complete loss. Still, I’m up for any ideas you might have on why the enchiladas tasting like boring.

fn1. I grew up thinking that chile rellenos a totally native New Mexican dish, invented there. The first time Marty ever told me about a chile relleno made with stuffing that wasn’t exclusively cheese, I was shocked and vaguely disgusted. And, honestly, a little offended that someone would put raisins in their relleno. Imagine my surprise to learn otherwise. I will still always mean a New Mexican relleno when I say, “chile relleno,” but that’s an artifact of childhood more than a judgment these days.