After digesting the fervor that is Thanksgiving, I always find the period immediately following to be especially contemplative. Perhaps it was because I stayed locally (in Los Angeles) all weekend, luckily not having to travel far this year to be with loved ones. Freeways were blessedly empty, crowds were unrecognizably sparse, and the weekend was a fortuitous 85 degrees belying the fact that December is around the corner. Conditions were ripe to (of course) give thanks for all that I have in my life. Once that was exhausted though, I had the rare chance to slow down and evaluate the year’s achievements, the year’s misses and to confront those pressing questions that linger in the mind. Like, how the hell is 2011 almost over? Do I have anything to show for it? What exactly is the appeal of Black Friday? And last but certainly not least, what the heck do I do with all this leftover turkey in my fridge?
Because the last question was the easiest to tackle, I decided to take a two-pronged approach with my surplus of Thanksgiving’s meat du jour: Turkey Enchiladas and Turkey Vegetable Soup. In case others might be in the same predicament, I’ve included the easy to follow recipes below. And later this week, as a gesture of remorse for partaking in the annual butchering of turkeys nation-wide, a much-anticipated visit to the new Chick-fil-A that opened recently in Hollywood. No paltry poultry here in sight folks — how could anyone be in a fowl mood?
Post-Thanksgiving Turkey Enchiladas
(adapted from Tyler Florence’s Chicken Enchilada Recipe)
2-4 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (optional – only needed if using already cooked turkey meat)
2.5 cups shredded skinless white turkey meat (or 1.5 lbs skinless turkey breasts)
2 tbsp. ground cumin
2 tbsp. cayenne pepper
2 tbsp. onion powder
2 tbsp. garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste (I added about 1/2 tsp. of each)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 red onion, diced
1.5 cups corn
1.5 cups white mushrooms, chopped
5 canned whole green chiles (one 7 ounce can will work), seeded and chopped
4 canned chipotle chiles, seeded and chopped finely (optional)
1 can stewed tomatoes (28 ounces)
1/2 tsp all-purpose flour
16-20 corn tortillas
2 large cans of enchilada sauce (green or red; I used 2 large 28 oz. cans of green sauce but 1 large and 1 small can will suffice)
2 cups shredded Jack and Cheddar cheese (1 cup of each cheese, or you can buy the 16 oz. mixed bag of both)
sliced avocado and finely chopped cilantro to garnish (additional garnish options: sour cream, chopped tomatoes, chopped green onion)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If using raw turkey breasts, season the meat with the spices, salt and pepper and cook in 2 tbsp. (2/3) of the vegetable oil. Brown for about 7 minutes. Take off heat and let cool. If using leftover turkey meat, shred meat by hand or finely chop so that it is shredded. Put in a bowl. Drizzle the olive oil over the shredded meat, and add the spices, and salt and pepper. Mix so that it is thoroughly covered. Put aside.
In a separate sauté pan, put 2 tbsp. vegetable oil in pan and sauté the garlic and onions until the onions are translucent. Add the corn, mushrooms, chilies and stewed tomatoes (I poured half of the liquid the tomatoes came in as well). Saute for 1-2 minutes and remove from heat. Combine shredded seasoned turkey meat with the vegetables and stir until well mixed. Dust lightly with flour so the mixture sets in. Put aside.
Microwave the tortillas for about 30 seconds so they are more pliable. Try to layer them so that they are staggered on a plate. Cover the bottom of two 9×13 pans with enchilada sauce. Pour about one cup of enchilada sauce into a shallow wide bowl. Lightly coat each tortilla into the enchilada sauce and then place into the 9×13 pan. Spoon 1/3 cup of mixture into each tortilla and fold the sides closed. Flip the tortilla so that it is seam side down. Repeat for remaining tortillas. You will probably fit about 8-10 enchiladas per pan. Ladle with additional enchilada sauce and add cheese.
Bake in oven for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted. Garnish with cilantro and slices of fresh avocado.
Let’s Talk Turkey…Vegetable Soup
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
juice of a whole lemon
1/2 cup tomato sauce
salt and pepper to taste (I added about 1/2 tsp of each)
5 carrots, chopped into 1/2 inch rounds
5 stalks celery, chopped into 1/2 inch rounds
1 zucchini, diced
1 cup sliced white mushrooms
1 tsp. fresh sage, finely chopped
1 tsp. fresh thyme
1 tsp. fresh oregano
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
2 bay leaves
2 cups water
45 ounces (roughly) of low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups shredded turkey meat
*other optional additions: potato, corn, peas, kidney beans, small pasta or wild rice.
Take a large pot and heat olive oil over medium heat. Add minced garlic and chopped onion. Sauté until onion is translucent. Add half the water, stirring occasionally for a minute or so. Add chopped carrots, celery, zucchini, mushrooms and lemon juice. Add bay leaves, salt, pepper and dried and fresh herbs/spices. Add shredded and seasoned turkey meat. Slowly add the rest of the water and chicken broth. Reduce heat and let simmer covered for at least 30 minutes, but preferably a few hours to develop taste. Remove bay leaves before serving.