What to do with the leftover turkey from Thanksgiving

Every year, Mr. Hall cooks for Thanksgiving like an army is coming over.  Actually, he’s like that with most meals, but Thanksgiving is when he really goes overboard.  At least this year I convinced him to go easy on the turkey and just get a 14 pounder, as opposed to prior year 20 pound birds.  There’s only six of us, for christ’s sake.

I’m usually really good about getting the turkey used up into recipes and freezing them Thanksgiving weekend, but with the bathroom renovation last weekend it didn’t happen.  Instead, we picked the meat off the turkey and froze it.  About four pounds worth.

This time around, I made two things with my leftover turkey.  Cori, here’s another one for you!  I can’t promise it’s as healthy as the chili.

Turkey Enchilada Casserole

This has been my go-to recipe for the past couple of years with the leftover turkey.  I like the concept of a enchilada casserole because it freezes much better than rolled up enchiladas.  Anyway, here is my recipe below.  I doubled it, since I had so much turkey.

  • 1 1/2 pounds turkey
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano leaves or 1 tablespoon dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 can (12 oz.) red enchilada sauce
  • 1 can black beans.  Note: make sure to drain and rinse these well!
  • 12 corn tortillas (6 in. wide)
  • 2 cups shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese.  I’ve done it with a Mexican blend cheese too.

Start by chopping up your onions.  I like mine in pieces that are small but not too small.

Then, I got busy with chopping up the turkey.  This is what takes forever.  I spent 30 minutes chopping up the bird bits.  By the time I was done, this is what I had left.

Anyone notice the owl sighting in the upper corner?  Well, hello Mr. Owl salt shaker.

In a 5- to 6-quart pot over high heat, saute up your onion, garlic, oregano, and cumin in olive oil.  Stir in 1 cup enchilada sauce. Add salt to taste.  (Note: This year, I added all of the enchilada sauce,  since I didn’t feel like layering the sauce).    Then, add in the black beans.  My doubled recipe filled up my 5 quart pot to the top!  I added a little extra sauce because I knew I would be freezing this up and the extra moisture would help.

Doesn’t that look tasty?  If you’d like, make it saltier or spicier.  I let it warm up on the stove for a few minutes, which gives me an opportunity to cut my corn tortillas in half.

Since I had a big batch, I used two large casserole dishes.  Layer a good amount of halved tortillas on the bottom of the casserole dish.   Then, get busy layering with the turkey mixture, then shredded cheese, then another thin layer of tortillas.  Repeat until it goes to the top.

Sometimes, I will do it a little different if I don’t mix all of the enchilada sauce.  Instead, I’ll arrange a fourth of the halves evenly over the bottom of the casserole, overlapping to fit. Sprinkle a fourth of the cheese evenly over the tortillas, then top with a third of the turkey mixture and a fourth of the remaining enchilada sauce, spreading each level. Repeat to make two more layers of tortillas, cheese, turkey mixture, and sauce; top with another layer of tortillas and sauce, then cheese.  Either way, it still comes out the same.  It’s constructed just like lasagna.  Serve the same way!

Here’s a shot of the layering process, then one finished and one in progress.

Cheese.  CHEESE!!!

Disclaimer for Cori.  I always buy the 2% cheese.

Bake in a 425° regular or convection oven until cheese is melted and casserole is hot in the center, 18 to 20 minutes.

Here’s what it looks like out of the oven.

I usually let it come back down to room temperature and put it in the fridge overnight.  Then, the next day I cut it up into my trusty Rubbermaid containers and freeze them.  I will get 5 meals out of what I just made above.

This year, since the amount of leftover turkey was still ridiculous, I had some leftover turkey enchilada mixture.  I decided to make my trusty nacho taco mix.  I basically just added in a can of corn and stirred it up!

What is nacho taco mix, you ask?  Well, it’s basically just like chili but not as runny.  Since the enchilada mix is almost like that, I decided to go ahead and put the corn in there.  Nacho taco mix is what Mr. Hall uses to make nachos or tacos.  Easy!  I just get pint sized freezer bags and label them…

Then, I put a few scoops of the mixture into the bags.  Flatten them out and seal.  From this mixture, I have five more meals!

To reheat the enchilada casserole, I just take it out and pop it in the microwave.

To reheat the nacho taco mix, just take the bag and put it in a microwave safe dish.  High heat for a minute.  Loosen the bag and pour the frozen blob into the dish.  Defrost on 60% for like 8 minutes or so.

Turkey in Mexican food=surprisingly delicious.

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