Recipe ~ Leftover Turkey Mexican Casserole

Recipe - Leftover Turkey Mexican Casserole

What is it about Thanksgiving that is so awesome? Friends? Family? Thanksgiving meal? Or is it the leftovers? Perhaps all of the above, but I’m leaning towards the leftovers. Thanksgiving leftovers are the gift that keeps on giving. The side dishes are easy enough to eat as leftovers – heat in the microwave and serve. But the turkey was always hard for me. It always got dried out reheating in the microwave and cold turkey sandwiches are so-so for me. That all changed one Thanksgiving in Illinois when my grandma taught me how to make mexican casserole.

The beauty of it is it’s SO easy to make, and it’s very customizable (is that a word? sure) depending on what you have in your pantry. Since I had to go gluten-free and dairy-free a few years ago, I’ve changed the recipe slightly, but it’s still very very yummy. In fact, I made it for dinner last night and as of this morning it’s already gone. My boyfriend and I gobbled it down (get it? gobble? for turkey? I’m so funny).

INGREDIENTS
2 cups turkey, shredded and pre-cooked
8 corn tortillas
2 cups salsa (your favorite, make sure it’s kind of runny)
Half a packet of Chili mix (gluten free alternative below)
Optional:
Shredded cheese (I’m guessing around half a cup)
4 oz can green chilis
small can sliced olives
sliced scallions

Gluten-free chili mix (equivalent to half of a packet):
1 tsp rice flour
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional if you don’t like spice)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cumin

DIRECTIONS:
1. Prehead oven to 350 degrees.
2. Coat 9×9 casserole dish with non-stick spray.
3. Line bottom of dish with 4 corn tortillas. Place them so the sides of the corn tortillas go up on the sides of the dish.
4. Mix chicken and chili mix in a bowl.
5. Place chicken on top of tortillas and cover with 1/2 salsa and other optional ingredients.
6. Cover casserole with remaining 4 corn tortillas.
7. Top with remaining salsa. Make sure to have salsa cover all of the tortillas so they don’t dry out.
8.  Bake for 45 minutes.

This time I made it I included the olives and green chilis but did not include scallions or cheese (the whole no-dairy thing). The original recipe calls for cheese though and its very good with cheese. I don’t remember how much exactly to add, but enough to cover the chicken and other ingredients in Step 5, so I’m guessing 1/2-1 cup, depending on how much you love cheese (and don’t we all love cheese?).

If you like spicey, then you can make this with hot salsa, spicy green chilis and some red pepper flakes. Maybe even toss in some sliced jalepenos. If you don’t like spice, then use mild salsa, mild green chilis and no red pepper flakes. I used medium salsa with the red pepper flakes for a little kick.

When choosing a salsa, I mention to make sure its runny because you are using it for some liquid on top to help prevent the corn tortillas from turning into corn chips in the oven. If its the fresh salsa kind with no liquid, or if its too “chunky”, then you will have to use more salsa than the 2 cups. It should look like the picture to the right before popping in the oven.

What am I thankful for this year? Thanksgiving leftovers and mexican casserole. Oh ya, friends and family too.

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