The Big Enchilada


¡Hola!  Today I combined one of my very favorite dishes from culinary school with a new sauce I threw together to make some insane turkey enchiladas.  The turkey is steamed in beer andthe sauce just combined in the food processor or blender, making it a relatively simple dish.

Note: while this is a super easy dish, it’s not AS quick as some of the other things I post.  If you’re in a hurry, or have trouble cooking quickly, it might be worthwhile to substitute a rotisserie chicken for the turkey, and simply sprinkle the achiote powder on the chicken.  You can also make the turkey and sauce ahead of time and then assemble everything the night you want to cook it.  Lots of options.

Here’s the info:

The turkey is actually a classic Mexican style dish called Pavo con Salsa de Achiote a la Yucataneca (Yucantan style steamed turkey in achiote sauce).  I adapted it a little bit to simplify it and make it easier for the traditional home cook.  Usually the turkey is just served simply in a corn tortilla with some pickled onions, salsa, and avocado.  I decided to put it in an enchilada.  The turkey is marinated in a combination of orange juice, honey, spices, and achiote paste and then steamed in beer with a cover of corn husks or banana leaves.  The picture below shows you how I set up the steamer.  I just used a regular multi-pot with a steamer insert.   You can also steam it in a 350 F oven with a roasting pan and the turkey up on a rack and tightly covered in foil.  Up to you.  Basically you just want to make sure the interior of the thickest part of the turkey gets to 165 F.


After the turkey is done steaming, you want to let it cool a bit so you can shred it.

The sauce I just made up because I wanted a sort of creamy, super flavorful sauce but not spicy.  If you want to add jalapeño to this to spice it up, feel free.  I’m just not really a spicy food person.  I used tomatillo, avocado, cilantro, coriander, and so on.  The cilantro and coriander are two versions of the same thing, really, so the flavors complement each other.  I know a lot of people haven’t worked with tomatillos but they are really light tasting and acidic.  They have a paper-y outer layer and then a sticky skin, so be sure to remove that wrapping before you use them and then rinse the skins off.  The avocado is a nice element to add to the other flavors because it gives a creamy texture and that mild flavor.

To pull everything together into enchiladas, I used jack cheese and queso fresco.  I wanted to keep the individual ingredients as legit as possible.  Queso fresco is a Latin American soft cheese that is actually very easy to make yourself and has a salty flavor.

So anyway, enough chit chat.  Here’s the recipe!

Turkey Enchiladas with Avocado Tomatillo Sauce


1/2 C achiote seasoning (Goya makes a good one!)

3 C  Orange juice

1/4 C honey

4 T white wine vinegar

2 T melted butter

1 T ground cumin

1 tsp dried oregano

1 bone in skin on turkey breast or 2 turkey breast tenderloins

2 bottles of beer (preferably Mexican beer or something mild and bland, like Coors)

Corn husks – if you can’t find those, you can use cheesecloth

In a bowl, mix together all ingredients.   Place the turkey in the bowl and let sit at room temperature for 45 minutes to an hour.

Line a steamer basket that fits in a larger pot with the corn husks.  You can soak them in water if they are hard to bend.  Pour the beer in the bottom of the pot.  Once the turkey is done marinating, place it in the basket and then cover with more corn husks.  Place a lid over the pot with the basket fitted inside and then steam over medium low to medium heat until turkey is 165 F at the thickest part, about 30 minutes.   Remove from heat.   Let turkey cool and then shred into bite sized pieces.


7-8 tomatillos, cut into quarters

1 avocado, peeled and seeded

1/3 C cilantro leaves

1/4 lime juice

2 tsp ground coriander

4 garlic cloves

1/2 sour cream or Mexican crema


Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender.  Pulse until smooth.  Season to taste.


Cooked Turkey

2 C prepared tomatillo avocado sauce

Corn tortillas

Vegetable oil

1 C shredded monterey jack cheese

1/2 C crumbled queso fresco

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a small pan, heat a tsp of vegetable oil.  Lightly cook the corn tortillas on both sides until they are pliable, adding more vegetable oil as needed.   Remove to a paper towel to drain.

Pour about 1/2 C of the sauce into the empty casserole or baking dish, enough to cover the bottom.  This will ensure that the enchiladas don’t dry out when baking.  Then start to build them:  take one tortilla, fill it with an even line of turkey and monterey jack, roll and place into the dish.  Continue until full.  Pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas, and then cover with the monterey jack and queso fresco.   Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil or an oven safe lid.  Bake covered for 15 minutes, then uncover and bake 15-20 minutes more, or until browned and bubbly.

Garnish with more cilantro and avocado, or sliced tomato like I did.





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