Saturday, 7 December 2013

Leftover turkey, Mexican style: enchiladas (with La Costeña Doña Chonita mole)

So a couple weeks ago it was Thanksgiving, and since I'm American I basically force my Scottish family to eat a big-ass traditional turkey dinner with me, even though we're going to have another one in less than a month.

(To be fair, I've never heard anyone in Scotland complain about getting two turkey dinners a year.)

But what do you do with your leftovers when you're also MexiGeek?

Well, for me, leftover turkey means only one thing: enmoladas!

Most Americans have heard of enchiladas. Even a fair few Brits have heard the word, though I have yet to see a proper enchilada served in the UK.

Well, "enchilada" means "(tortilla) smothered in chile sauce". But in Mexico you can smother a filled tortilla in anything.

If you smother it in bean sauce it's an enfrijolada. If you smother it in tomato sauce it's an entomatada. And if you smother it in mole it's an enmolada.

Of course, the purpose of a leftover dish is too be quick and easy. It should be pieced together with stuff you already have lying around.

In Mexico, you would always have tortillas to use up (enchiladas and their variations are usually made with stale tortillas briefly fried to "revive" them), and if it's the day after a holiday, there's a good chance you have some mole in the fridge as well.

This ain't necessarily the case outside Mexico.

One of the things I never shit like shut up about is how I made my own mole poblano one year. And I definitely did use the leftovers to make enmoladas.

But this year I had a little help from my friends at La Costeña, who sent me loads of awesome products from their Doña Chonita range, including mole poblano.

La Costeña is a well-known brand of Mexican food and ingredients. Unlike some brands, they are actually a Mexican company, and their core costumer base comprises Mexicans cooking in Mexico.

However, they have been expanding their international market, which is a great windfall for all of us, because of the high quality and authenticity of their products.

Two things from La Costeña I find indispensable throughout the year are their tinned tomatillos (essential when fresh ones are out of season) and their chipotles en adobo (my favourite brand; I cook with these a lot).

Their Doña Chonita range are ready-to-serve salsas, moles, etc, that you can just pour into a saucepan, heat up, and use.

So this mole, a leftover pack of tortillas and some shredded Thanksgiving turkey made for about the quickest enmoladas ever.

Seriously, this was the first time I ever plated up a Mexican dish less than 30 minutes after starting the prep.

I put the oven on to 160° C fan, then opened the mole and began heating it over medium.

You want it warm, but don't burn this beautiful sauce. Keep an eye on it and stir frequently.

Then I shredded the turkey by hand and fried it in about 10 g of butter and a tablespoon of olive oil.

When the turkey read warm through I added just enough mole to the pan to coat the turkey completely.

Then I filled some tortillas with the turkey, rolled them up, put them in an oven-safe dish and covered with the rest of the mole.

Ten minutes in the oven and they were done. I topped them with crumbled queso fresco from Gringa Dairy before serving.

This is gringo-style cooking, but delicious none the less. (In Mexico you would fry corn tortillas, then dip them in mole before folding them around the turkey.)

The mole, which after all was the star of the dish, was excellent. It had a real depth of flavour that you could only really top by spending four days making your own from scratch.

A lot of non-Mexicans are unsure about mole because it famously contains chocolate (as well as 23 or more other ingredients).

Of course, mole looks like chocolate sauce because of its rich brown colour, but this mole doesn't taste overpoweringly of chocolate because it has such a good balance of its many ingredients. 

It also has a noticeable chile zing, which is important because the real stars of mole are the Holy Trinity of Chiles: anchos, mulatos, and pasillas.

I'm always an advocate of making your own mole, if you have four days and 23 ingredients handy, but most of us don't, besides which it's a good idea to try products like these so you can get an idea of what mole is supposed to taste like.

Anyway, although I made this after Thanksgiving, Christmas is coming up, and I reckon we're all getting pretty tired of turkey curry. Trust me, there's no substitute for turkey enmoladas