Turkey Enchilada Casserole

Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away there was something called Home Ec.  Back in the dark ages, before microwaves and cell phones, they would separate the boys from the girls and it was considered just fine to do so.  There was an academic hour every day in your school life dedicated to learning things you might need for the rest of your life.  If you were a middle school boy, you went to shop and learned how to build and fix things.  If you were a girl, you went to Home Ec.  I loved Home Ec.  You learned interesting things, like how to bake a pie and make a meringue.  You were taught valuable skills, like how to set the table and iron a shirt, and how to budget the grocery money.  And you would sadly realize that there were some things you would never, ever be good at, like how to sew a wrap around skirt.

Our Home Ec teacher, Mrs. White, was an amazing woman.  She impressed on us the importance of being able to coordinate the timing of eggs, bacon, hash browns and toast so that everything would be ready to serve at the same time.  And just in case we didn’t realize how serious all of this was, she warned us that some day we would have to successfully manage this while feeding a baby, getting children off to school, and helping a husband who is late and has lost his briefcase.  In the 6th grade, all of that seemed very far away, but it seemed serious just the same.

Besides not being able to get the skirt quite right, there were a few things from Home Ec that were truly memorable.  One of them was Turkey Enchilada Casserole.  The 6th grade me was hugely skeptical about putting two cans of soup plus some salsa together in the same bowl.  Really?  Adding turkey made me even more unsure.  But Mrs. White assured us that this was a thrifty way to use up any dark meat and small bits of turkey that were left over.  She also told us that casseroles were a good way to feed a lot of people in an economic way, and boy would we need to know how to do that for the rest of our lives.

I have made this recipe so many times that I do it by feel.  I had to search the internet to try and find exact measurements and I found a recipe called King Ranch Chicken Casserole on cooks.com that was the closest match to the recipe I remembered so well from Home Ec.  I used 12 ounce cartons (Pacific Brand)  of organic condensed soup in place of the canned variety because they are gluten free.  I used reduced fat cheese to lighten things up a bit.  And I used Three Sisters Nixtamal organic corn tortillas, which are phenomenal.  So while it’s still a casserole, it is a bit lighter and healthier because of the ingredients.  This is also oh-so-good made with any kind of leftover chicken, and is a great way to use up rotisserie chicken odds and ends, but to be totally honest I like this casserole so much I have taken to using most, if not all, of the white meat when I make it.

After the smoke has cleared, and the last of the dishes are done, you will be left with some random scraps of turkey.  Use these to make this casserole.  It will come in handy to feed some of those people that are with you for the long weekend.  Or, make it and bake it, and pop it in the freezer to reheat for a stress free meal during the holidays.  You’ll be glad you did.

I have thought about Mrs. White often through the years and would love to thank her for all the valuable skills she taught me.  I still can’t sew to save my life, but I can execute a perfectly timed breakfast and feed a crowd at a moment’s notice.  She was a great teacher and my life was so much better because of what I learned in her class.

Wishing you, your family, and friends a happy, safe, and healthy Thanksgiving filled with good food, good times, and gratitude.

Turkey Enchilada Casserole

  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup salsa
  • One 4 ounce can fire roasted, diced green chiles
  • One 10 ounce package corn tortillas
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • leftover turkey, small scraps, and shredded pieces

Preheat oven to 350º F.  Combine chicken and mushroom soup in large bowl, stirring well.  Add broth gradually, stirring to avoid lumps. Stir in salsa and green chiles.

Cut each tortilla round into 4 triangles.  Ladle enough soup into bottom of 13 x 9 casserole to lightly cover.  Top with tortilla triangles to form a bottom layer.  Scatter turkey pieces evenly over tortillas, then add some of the onion.  Ladle sauce evenly over all, then top with some of cheese.  Repeat layering in same way one more time.  Finish top layer with tortillas, sauce and grated cheese.  Bake uncovered for 45-60 minutes, until casserole thickens and cheese on top melts.  Let stand and cool 20 minutes before cutting.

Donna Ferguson

Donna Ferguson

I love to cook, garden, and write about all the things in Vancouver and the Northwest that make life so great.

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