I love to cook and Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I did not grow up celebrating the holiday, as I am originally from Mexico, but my kids did and for us it’s all about family and reflecting on how grateful we are for all we have. I learned from friends to cook the traditional American meal – oven-roasted turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberries, sweet potatoes and so forth. But when it comes to leftovers, it’s all about Mexican food.
Here are four dishes made with Thanksgiving leftovers that my family loves.
Enchiladas are a traditional Mexican dish that can be made in a variety of ways. My favorite method is in a special metal pan that is kind of like an upside-down hat, allowing you to fry the tortillas and then remove them from the oil while still keeping them on a hot surface (the ‘brim’). The easiest method is to simply make them in the oven. I am great at teaching others to cook but not at creating recipes. So I found this recipe on line: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/chicken-enchiladas-i/detail.aspx.
This recipe calls for flour tortillas, which can be easier to find in stores than corn tortillas. But if you want a more authentic taste, I suggest you substitute corn tortillas. I prefer to buy mine at the local bakery, but for pre-packaged tortillas I suggest either of the following two brands: Mission or Guerrero. Fill the pan as indicated in the recipe; since corn tortillas are smaller than flour ones, you’ll end up using more tortillas but other than that, it’s the same concept.
Corn tortillas in the package are stiff, so they must be heated before rolling the filling into them (for the filling you can use just turkey or turkey and mashed potatoes). I normally heat my tortillas on a special skillet called a comal, but you can use a regular pan and a spatula. Or you can heat the tortillas in the microwave for about 20 seconds. For the sauce, I use a sauce that my son’s godmother makes. If you don’t have a fairy godmother, you can buy pre-made sauce. The recipe suggests taco sauce, but if you have a Mexican food section at your local market, I suggest you buy canned enchilada sauce. One brand that is good is Las Palmas.
My kids love, love fried tacos. For tacos, you need to have corn tortillas (though in a pinch, you could get away with flour tortillas – just don’t call them tacos). The first thing you do is heat the tortillas so they become bendable. Then fold them in half and fill each one with about 2 tablespoons of mashed potatoes, just so the tortilla is nice and filled but not over-stuffed. You can add turkey and/or cheese to the filling as well. I normally fill all of the tortillas and have them ready to go before beginning the frying marathon. I also prepare a plate covered in some paper towels to soak up the oil after the tacos have been fried.
Next you heat some oil in a frying pan until the oil starts to jump. Gently lay one or two tacos in the pan at a time (depending on the size of your pan). Fry both sides until golden brown. If you can, hold the taco over the oil with some tongs, with the seam perpendicular to the pan so that the oil drips out a bit. Place the tacos on the plate lined with the paper towels for several minutes to release some of the remaining oil.
Fried tacos are best served soon after being made, as they become hard as they cool – and heating them in the microwave simply makes them chewy. Serve the tacos with sour cream, chopped cabbage or lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, salsa and avocados or guacamole. It’s the same idea as a hotdog, where each person adds the garnishes they like, according to taste. Just be careful when opening the taco – it often is hotter than you think!
This is a great dish to chase away the cold. It’s a traditional soup made with hominy and often either chicken or pork. I found the following recipe for making pozole in a slow cooker: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/slow-cooker-pozole/detail.aspx. You can just leave out the chicken and then add the turkey once the dish is cooked. Or you can make the pozole the easy way: simply buy pre-made pozole at the grocery store. The brand I prefer is called Juanita’s.
The way we eat pozole is to simply serve it in bowls and then for each person to squeeze in some lemon juice or lime juice and sprinkle dried oregano according to taste. I highly suggest that instead of ground oregano, you purchase whole dried oregano as having that strong oregano aroma is an important part of the pozole experience. You can also top with shredded cabbage and thinly sliced radishes. Serve with tortillas or plain tostadas; one brand of packaged tostadas that is delicious is Jose’s. If you don’t have tortillas or tostadas, you can serve with tortilla chips.
Tostadas are a crowd-pleaser. Basically they are a fried corn tortilla with whatever topping you desire – like an open-faced sandwich but made with a tortilla. I take corn tortillas and fry them on both sides until golden brown. As there is no need to bend the tortilla, you do not need to heat it before placing it in the hot oil. As with the tacos, I line a plate with paper towels to then place the fried tortillas on there to release some of the oil before serving.
You can assemble each tostada and then serve them already plated, but the easiest way is to simply set out the tostadas and then have all the different toppings each in its own bowl or plate. On the bottom layer of your tostada, you want something to anchor the food on, so maybe a layer of mashed beans or a thin layer of mashed potatoes. Next pile on the meat and any of the following: chopped cabbage or lettuce, salsa or taco sauce, tomatoes (diced or in slices), sour cream, cheese and sliced avocados or guacamole.
Buen provecho! Enjoy!