How to Make 15 Minute Stovetop Roast Turkey and Mole Enchiladas

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Tender roast turkey stuffed into crisp tortillas and served with a rich, complex mole sauce. [Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

Things I learned when I was 18 years old:

  • Finding an older friend who looks something like you is much more effective than getting a fake-and-looks-it fake ID in Boston bars.
  • Turkeys are from Mexico.
  • Other people really really care about how one defines "sexual relations."
  • Titanic is a really great movie to tell your mom you're going to see because it gives you a solid three and a half hours of uninterrupted free time to do something else.

It's the second one there that we're going to focus on today because a) it's interesting (did you know that there were fully domesticated turkeys in Mexico well before the Spaniards colonized it in the 16th century) and b) it's delicious (turkey is the most traditional meat to serve with mole poblano).

Now supposing that you've got yourself a big 'ol pile of leftover turkey sitting in the fridge, and right next to it happens to be a batch of the mole poblano you made a few weeks back. There's only one possible outcome to this situation: turkey and mole enchiladas (or, if you want to get really technical about it, enmoladas).

There are dozens of ways to make enchiladas, and while most have you roll up fillings in corn tortillas, cover them with sauce, and bake them until hot, when I'm in a hurry (as is often the case around lunch time with leftovers), I fall back on a technique I learned from a Mexican woman in her kitchen in Baja. I hovered around her for a few days as she cooked lunch for Adri and me while her daughter sat in the kitchen doing her English homework.

It starts the same basic way as any enchilada, by rolling up a filling in a freshly warmed corn tortilla.

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I use about an ounce and a half of picked turkey meat seasoned with just a little salt per tortilla.

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It's tempting to overstuff these, but remember, with an enchilada, it's just as much about that tortilla as it is about the filling. Your tortilla should end up no bigger than a wide cigar.

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Next, add the rolled tortillas seam-side-down to a cast iron or non-stick skillet with a couple tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Let the tortillas fry without moving until they're crispy on the bottom, then carefully turn them over, making sure they don't unravel as you do.

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Fry the second side, then remove the tortillas with a slotted spatula and transfer them to a paper towel to drain briefly. Make sure to salt them as soon as they're out of the pan and still hot!

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Finally, heat up some mole in a small saucepan on the stovetop and spoon it onto a plate. I used this recipe from Josh Bousel, though your favorite recipe or even a good store-bought variety will do. Don't want to make mole? No problem, these guys are just as good with some basic salsa verde.

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Place the enchiladas on top, spoon some more sauce over them, drizzle them with Mexican crema (you can use a mixture of milk and sour cream if you can't find it), some crumbled cotija cheese, sliced onions, and cilantro, and you're ready to eat.

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In some circles you might call these taquitos or perhaps flautas, though they are only crisp on two sides while maintaining tender centers, so it's really somewhere in between an enmolada and a taquito.

Whatever you call them, they're delicious (and a good inspiration to start working on a recipe-packed guide to all manner of Mexican stuffed-into-a-tortilla-things).