Leftover-turkey chilaquiles: 89 cents/serving

Given that this year I made two turkeys—one smoked, one roasted—for eight people, it goes without saying we have some leftover meat. It also goes without saying that, after giving it away to anyone who wants it, I try to use every scrap of that leftover meat, especially when it comes out of the Thanksgiving budget, not the weekly budget.

This was Round 1 for the smoked turkey, inspired by half a bag of leftover Juanita’s tortilla chips. (Anyone who lives in the Pacific Northwest knows you DO NOT let a bag of Juanita’s go to waste.) You could also use crisp-fried tortillas in place of the chips, if you want to be all authentic and stuff.

Chilaquiles, if you haven’t had them, are kind of like a cross between nachos and enchiladas. They adapt well to any Mexican sauce (mole, salsa verde, etc.) if you already have one on hand. This particular sauce was adapted from one in Rick Bayless’ “Authentic Mexican”; if I’ve learned anything in my years of cooking, it’s that you don’t second guess Rick Bayless.

As below it makes about 4 servings, but it’s a pretty light meal, so I shortened it to 3.

• 7 oz. corn tortilla chips* (cheating! We would never buy chips, but my brother-in-law happened to bring some on Thursday; substitute fried tortilla triangles if you don’t have them): $0
• 1 cup leftover turkey, shredded or torn into small pieces: $0**
• 1 cup leftover turkey stock (I had some from making gravy; you can also use chicken stock): $0
• 1 28-oz. can whole tomatoes: $1.19
• 1 jalapeño (optional), stemmed, seeded & de-veined (because I was using smoked turkey, I used a chipotle): 10 cents
• 1/2 onion, quartered: 12 cents
• 3 cloves garlic: 9 cents
• 4 oz. pepper jack cheese, grated (queso fresco would be even better): $1
• Salt: 1 cent
• 1 T canola oil: 3 cents
• Cilantro (about 1/4 of a 49-cent bunch), leaves chopped or torn: 12 cents
TOTAL: $2.66/3 = 89 cents


*I once tried to make these with baked chips, and it was nothing short of catastrophic. Use fried, or don’t bother.

**The two or three days following Thanksgiving are a boon to a $35-a-weeker, as turkey leftovers are EVERYWHERE. For me it came from another budget, but it could have also just as easily come from family, friends, co-workers or neighbors. Seriously; ask someone for some turkey leftovers the day after Thanksgiving. I dare you.

Instructions:

Preheat the broiler.

Puree the contents of the can of tomatoes, the onion, the garlic, and the jalapeño, if desired, in a blender.

Heat the oil in a large, oven-safe skillet or saute pan with a lid over medium-high heat; add the puree and stir constantly until cooked and reduced a bit, about 5 minutes. Add the stock, stir to combine. Reduce the heat to low, salt to taste. Add the chips and stir gently, making sure each one is coated with the sauce.

If necessary, put the lid on for a couple of minutes, to slightly soften the chips. Depending on the brand of chips I’ve used, sometimes this has been necessary, sometimes it hasn’t. You don’t want them to be crunchy, but you don’t want them to be mushy, either. Err on the side of too crunchy, because they’ll soften as they sit.

Sprinkle the turkey over the top, followed by the cheese, if you’re using a meltable kind. Put the pan under the broiler to melt the cheese and crisp up some of the edges of the chips. Serve with cilantro on top.

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