Monday, January 5, 2009

Turkey (Beef) Enchilada Casserole

One good thing about this blog is that it's forcing me to find good, repeat-worthy recipes. It's exciting when I find a recipe that is a star because I get to share it with you. I've actually tossed the idea around in my head of making a 5-star, go-to cookbook. I wouldn't be selling it, I'd just pass it out to my friends so they would have a good source of tried and true recipes. The thought it there, now I just have to find the time!

I used to shy away from recipes that didn't turn out so good. Now I tend to be determined to find cures for these flops, whether it be another recipe entirely, or just tweaking the existing recipe. I'm not really one to break out and create my own unique recipe, although that is something I strive for! One day, hopefully you'll see me on the Pillsbury the winner!

In keeping with overcoming my fears of bad recipes, I'm determined to find an authentic-tasting recipe for enchiladas. I think my biggest complaint for any recipe I've tried is the enchilada sauce. A friend of mine, suggests making your own using this recipe from the Food Network. However, time is an issue for me and therefore canned is much easier and time saving.

I found this recipe when looking for something else entirely, but thought I'd give it a whirl. It received top ratings from Southern Living/Cooking Light's readers and I've found those to be right on. From previous trials and errors with ground turkey, I decided the recipe needed some ground beef as well to add flavor. I believe some of the reviewers comments indicated to add more seasonings and even a can of green chiles. I suspect both of those recommendations were to boost up the turkey, but I followed the suggestions nonetheless. Wes has become somewhat wary of any recipe including ground turkey, so for him to say this dish "was pretty good" was a big step in the right direction. While this recipe isn't exactly enchiladas, it's a start. I think the key was the enchilada sauce I sent Wes out to get. I had already been to 2 grocery stores and couldn't find it in me to go back! My loving husband gladly obliged and went back to Whole Foods (I swear those people know us by name we're in there so frequently!). He came home with a $4+ can of enchilada sauce, Hatch brand. Knowing how I would react (being the cheapskate that I am), he prefaced this by telling me he hoped this would work because it's all they had. Well I guess sometimes you do get what you pay for because this was so much better than Old El Paso, Frontera, Meijer brand, Archer Farms, and any other brand I've tried. I'm anxious to try (well not too anxious because of the price) this again with another enchilada recipe. Until then, I'm still in search of the perfect enchilada recipe!

Here's the recipe as I doctored it:

Turkey Enchilada Casserole


1/4 pound ground turkey breast
1 1/4 pounds ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic (2 cloves)
1 can of diced green chiles (with liquid)
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon olive oil (you can omit this if you're using ground beef)
1 can (29 oz.) red enchilada sauce (Hatch brand if you're willing to spend the extra $)
12-14 corn tortillas (6 in. wide)
2 cups shredded reduced-fat jack or Chihuahua (our personal favorite)cheese (8 oz.)

1. In a saute pan over high heat, stir ground beef, turkey, onion, garlic, oregano, chili powder, and cumin in oil until turkey is crumbly and no longer pink, about 4 minutes. (I had to drain mine here because of the grease from the ground beef and the liquid from the chiles. You might want to add back in some spices if you feel a lot get drained away.) Stir in 1 cup enchilada sauce. Add salt to taste.
2. Meanwhile, cut tortillas in half. Arrange a fourth of the halves evenly over the bottom of a shallow 3-quart casserole (no idea what they're referring to here so I used a 13x9 pan), overlapping to fit. Sprinkle a fourth of the cheese evenly over the tortillas, then top with a third (because I used a bigger pan, I only got 2 layers of meat) 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.
3. Bake in a 425° regular or convection oven until cheese is melted and casserole is hot in the center, 18 to 20 minutes.

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