As long as I can remember, I’ve loved Mexican food. It all started when I was a child and my father prided himself on the fact that his daughter liked spicy food. I didn’t insist on hot dogs and chicken nuggets… no, I wanted cheese enchiladas cooked in spicy red chile sauce. This made him very proud. Over the years, I have gotten away from cheese enchiladas, mostly because of all of the fat. Instead I’ve replaced them with tons of tortilla chips, salsa, guacamole, and margaritas. I suspect that I’ve probably replaced cheese enchiladas with even more calories and fat by doing so, but alas, here I am. The truth is that I’ve never met a Mexican food I didn’t like. A few months ago, I got that craving and started checking my go-to recipe sites. I figured I would go back to my enchilada roots, but make them with ground beef and a lot less cheese. Then I decided to swap in ground turkey (mostly because that’s what I had in the freezer.) I finally decided on Tex-Mex Enchiladas, a la Everyday Food from MarthaStewart.com. They were nothing short of amazing. I got such rave reviews from Nick’s brother Mikey and his friends, that I had to make 4 trays of these babies this weekend. I may even have to go for 8 trays next time… they don’t last long. Here we go.
Because I was making so many enchiladas, I bought a big block of pepper jack cheese at Costco and shredded it in the food processor. Meanwhile, I started on the sauce. The sauce is the key to this recipe, and I really really really encourage you not to skip this step and substitute in canned sauce. Actually, I’m begging you not to. The first step of the sauce is making a roux: mixing fat with a starch (in this case, oil and flour.) Then you cook the crumbly roux for a minute or two… just enough to take away the flour taste.
Next you add the chicken stock and water, chopped chipotle peppers in adobo, sauce from the can, and lots of chili powder. And not any chili powder–you want Mexican-Style chili powder. The flavor is key!!
You bring everything to a boil and let it simmer, until this silky sauce comes together. Make sure you whisk A LOT so that you incorporate all of the bits of the roux and break apart any lumps. When you pass a spoon through, the only bits you should see are bits of the chiles you added.
Then you prepare the ground turkey. In some oil, saute the minced garlic, chopped onion, and ground turkey. Cook until no longer pink. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drain. Once ready, you can assemble the enchiladas. If your tortillas are nice and soft and roll without cracking, awesome, you can proceed. If they are more fragile, heat in an oven as instructed below. Ladle a few spoonfuls of the sauce in the bottom of a baking dish. Place a spoonful of ground turkey on the center of each tortilla (amount depends on size of the tortilla and how big you want your enchiladas.) Top with 2-3 tablespoons of cheese. Roll up and place in the baking dish, seam-side down. Repeat until all of the turkey is used. Top the filled enchiladas with more sauce and shredded cheese. Bake until cheese is melted and tortillas are slightly browned. Top with chopped scallions and cilantro. If you have leftover enchilada sauce, save it! I like to serve some warmed on the side, for the dunkers in my life.
Tex-Mex Turkey Enchiladas (slightly adapted from MarthaStewart.com)
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
- 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) chicken broth
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Mexican-style chili powder
- 1 small chipotle chile in adobo, minced, plus 1 tablespoon sauce (from a small can) (note: add more chiles and sauce if you like your food spicy)
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 pound ground turkey
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 8 soft-taco size flour tortillas (or corn tortillas)
- 1 1/2 cups shredded pepper jack or cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1/4 cup chopped scallions
- Make sauce: In a medium saucepan, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil over medium. Add flour and cook, whisking occasionally, 1 minute. Add broth, chili powder, chipotle and adobo sauce, and 3/4 cup water; bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce heat, and simmer until lightly thickened, about 10 minutes.
- Make filling: In a 10-inch nonstick skillet, heat remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Add onion, garlic, and beef; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until cooked through, about 8 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (If freezing, don’t place any sauce in baking dish.) Spoon 1/4 cup sauce in bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish. Set aside. Make enchiladas: (If tortillas are hard ONLY) Stack tortillas; wrap in foil, and warm in oven, 10 minutes. Fill each with a heaping 1/4 cup beef mixture and 2 tablespoons cheese; tightly roll up.
- Raise oven heat to 450 degrees. Arrange enchiladas, seam side down, in baking dish. Top with remaining sauce; sprinkle with cheese. Bake, uncovered, until hot and bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving. Serve garnished with cilantro and scallions and, if desired, a green salad.To freeze:make sauce and enchiladas; arrange enchiladas in baking dish without sauce (so tortillas don’t become soggy). Place sauce in an airtight container. Cover dish with plastic wrap and foil. Label, date, and freeze enchiladas and sauce. Use within 2 months; bake without thawing.To bake from frozen: Thaw sauce in refrigerator overnight. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Remove foil and plastic wrap from baking dish. Pour sauce over top, and sprinkle with cheese; cover with foil. Bake 30 minutes. Uncover; bake until lightly browned and bubbly, about 15 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes; serve.
If baking right away: Spoon 1/4 cup sauce in the bottom of baking dish; pour the rest over the enchiladas.