Turkey enchiladas: Leftovers of Thanksgiving



Chicken enchiladas with vegan cheese
Photo by Keri White

This meal came together as a result of an oversized roast chicken, but it occurs to me that this is the perfect way to use the surplus turkey you are likely have after your smaller-than-normal gathering this Thanksgiving.

You would think I had adjusted to cooking for two by now, but sometimes I revert — and I foresee that no matter how small of a turkey I get, we will doubtless have leftovers.

On a recent Sunday, I roasted a chicken, and it was perfect. I had brined it overnight, and it was cooked to a juicy, flavorful perfection. We ate our fill and, normally, after a roast chicken dinner, I throw the bird into a pot with the drippings and make soup tomorrow. But this chicken had a lot of meat left, and it was really tasty and seemed to warrant something more than soup.

I don’t want to suggest that using chicken for soup is a waste — the gallons of soup in my freezer would disagree — but this particular chicken was so tasty and so meaty that it seemed to deserve another meal before it became soup. Your Thanksgiving turkey is likely to be the same.


After dinner, I picked as much meat off the chicken as I could, stored it in a container and then threw the bones and drippings into the pot as per usual to become soup. I thought about using the surplus for chicken salad, but the chill in the air called for something more warming. Enchiladas seemed to fit the bill.

I have written before about repurposing leftovers in such a way that the second act does not resemble the original in flavor or appearance, and that makes them all the more appealing. Simply reheating the roast chicken, delicious though it was, with the same old sides was not tempting, but spicing it up, wrapping it in corn tortillas, baking it in chipotle salsa and serving it with tomatillo sauce and guacamole, well, that’s another story. Break out the margaritas!

I was able to get my hands on some excellent quality vegan cheese to top the enchiladas — . But if you can’t find a version that works, you can crumble corn chips on top of the enchiladas, or just cover them with salsa.

I made my own tomatillo sauce to serve at table with the enchiladas, since I had the time, inclination and ingredients. The recipe appears below. I opted for convenience with the salsa roja, using a can of RO-TEL tomatoes, a half a can of chipotles in adobo and some jarred salsa. There are no hard and fast rules here as far as the salsa goes; you can make your own, doctor up a bought version or just dump a jar over the enchiladas.

Turkey or Chicken Enchiladas

Serves 4

4 cups cooked turkey or chicken, chopped
8 corn tortillas
1 10-ounce can RO-TEL tomatoes
½ 7-ounce can chipotles in adobo
½ cup water (or more as needed)
½ cup jarred salsa
1 cup shredded vegan cheese or crumbled corn chips
Fresh cilantro for garnish

Heat your oven to 350 degrees. In a blender, puree the RO-TEL tomatoes, chipotles in adobo, salsa and water. The mixture should be the consistency of tomato puree or gazpacho — add more water if needed.

Mix ⅓ cup of this mixture with the chopped chicken. Spread ¼ cup of the sauce into the bottom of an oblong baking dish to lightly coat the surface. Take a corn tortilla, and fill it with chicken (about ½ cup per tortilla). Roll the tortilla around the chicken, and place it in the baking dish seam side down. Repeat this with all the tortillas, packing them closely in the dish.

Pour the remaining salsa over them, sprinkle with cheese or crumbled chips, if desired, and bake for 30 minutes until heated through. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro. Serve with tomatillo salsa.

Tomatillo salsa
Photo by Keri White

Tomatillo Salsa

Makes about 1½ cups

This is wonderful as an additional sauce for the enchiladas, but it can also be used as a sauce for fish, poultry or meat. It makes a great dip for chips, and can be mixed into guacamole for some added flavor and oomph.

For this salsa, if the broth is salted, you won’t need additional salt, but if you are using a no- or low-salt version, you will likely need to add salt.

10 tomatillos, husk removed, and cut in quarters
1 small onion, chopped
¾ cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped (more or less as desired)
Juice of ½ lime
Salt as needed

Mix all the ingredients except the lime in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring it to a boil, then lower the heat, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes until the ingredients begin to break down.

Cool slightly, and puree with an immersion or traditional blender. Add the lime juice, taste for seasoning and then salt, if needed. Serve it as a sauce with the enchiladas or as you would with any salsa.


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