I first encountered this method of cooking enchiladas on a raft trip in Utah. We were in Desolation Canyon, and were camped for the night on a wide sandy bend of the Green River. A horse skeleton had greeted us as we beached the boat.
We busted out some Tecate and got to work on dinner. Cooked over an open fire... the corn tortilla enchiladas verdes were smoky, had bits of ash in them, and even some sand. They were some of the finest enchiladas I've ever had.
The beauty of enchiladas is that you can fill them with dang near anything. Turkey, chicken, beef, buffalo, beans, potato, sweet potato, and even greens. We had ground turkey on the river that day, and that's what I've offered here.
- 2 lb ground turkey
- 12 corn tortillas
- canola oil
- 1lb grated jack cheese
- 1 can (14 oz. or so) green enchilada sauce
- 1 onion, sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- chili powder
- ground cumin
For the filling mixture:
Heat a medium cast iron skillet on medium heat, and begin caramelizing the onions in oil. Once they have turned translucent and are beginning to brown, add the turkey, and a tablespoon or so each of chili powder and cumin. Add 1-2 teaspoons salt, too.
Cook the turkey through, and season to taste with remaining chili, cumin, salt, and pepper (the flavor of this filling is in large part the flavor of your enchiladas, so taste the filling, and don't skimp on seasoning). Just before you are done, make a clear spot in the center of the skillet, add a bit more oil, and cook the crushed garlic for 1-2 minutes. Don't burn it! Set filling mixture aside.
For the tortillas:
First, pour a thin coating of enchilada sauce in a large cast iron skillet and set aside. Then, in a second large cast iron skillet, heat oil on medium high (if you're camping and/or only have one skillet, you can simply do these steps in series beginning with the tortilla cooking).
Once the oil is hot (but not smoking), lay each tortilla in hot oil for about 30 seconds per side. Some gentle bubbling is what you are after here, but not browning or crisping. As each tortlla comes out of the oil, lay in a good bit of cheese, add filling mixture, roll it up, and place it in the sauced skilet seam side down (or on a separate plate if using only one skillet). Pack the enchiladas in until the skillet is full, and then cover with remaining sauce.
Sprinkle additional cheese on top... and bake in the oven on 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or so. If camping, place over a settled fire (coals) so it cooks without bubbling too much. Slower is better. If you have the use of a dutch oven, you're all set... bake as you would normally until done.