Enchilada Pablo

When we were in Miami there was a restaurant that had ‘stacked enchiladas’ on the menu and claimed they were a ‘unique invention’. I was seriously insulted. Layered enchiladas are traditional in Northern New Mexico and the only way I’ve ever seen my aunts make them. I never saw Aunts Isabel, Loyda and Alyce make them any other way and in any good restaurant from Espanola north to the Colorado border, including Sante Fe, when you order enchiladas this is what you’ll get.

I have to warn you, this is not Rachel Ray – ‘Easy Breeze’ or ’30 minute simple’ meal. It takes some work to pull off. Stefania will need to chime in too and share with you how to make the sauces. You can of course use canned sauces and save 2-3 hours of prep time.


12 smallish corn tortillas
1/2 cup of oil
4 cups of red enchilada sauce
2 cups of green enchilada sauce
1 pound of cooked turkey
1 can of refried beans
8 oz of Jack Cheese
3 green onions
1/4 cup Crema Fresca

A note on the red and green sauces. Usually I just make this with red sauce. Normally in New Mexico you are asked if you would prefer red or green. If you want both that’s called ‘Christmas’ or ‘Christmas Tree’, so you don’t say ‘both’ you say ‘Christmas’ to get both. This last time I made some red and some Christmas. As the green sauce is generally much hotter, it’s a good idea to cut it with some red sauce.

Chop your turkey into small bits. You can also use ground beef, ground game (I’ve had elk and venison), chicken or shredded pork, what ever you prefer. Turkey is kind of traditional in my family as these are usually served on the day after Thanksgiving or day after Christmas. Add the turkey to a small pot and add just enough red sauce to cover. Heat on low.

Heat the beans with a small amount of water in a second pot.

Heat the oil in a large fry pan. Fry the tortillas lightly for 8-10 seconds on each side and then drain on paper towels.

To assemble:

In a large baking dish lay two tortillas flat on the bottom of the dish. Add about 1 1/2 tablespoons of beans and spread them out with a spoon to coat the tortilla. Add 2-3 tablespoons of meat and spread that out over the beans. Scoop out 1/4 cup of sauce and cover the meat and beans. Add a small bit of cheese then cover with a tortilla. Repeat the process.

To top the enchilada add one more tortilla (each enchilada will have three total). Cover with sauce until fully coated, some will drip down the sides. Then add a generous amount of cheese. The cheese inside should be just a small amount, most will go on top. Bake uncovered for about 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and add chopped green onions and a tablespoon of Crema Fresca.

This recipe will make four enchiladas and they are VERY filling. Count on one per person. Another note on the Crema Fresca. Any recipe that calls from Creme Fraiche you can use Crema Fresca. The only difference is Creme Fraiche is sold at Whole Foods for $9.95 a quarter cup and Crema Fresca is sold in Mexican markets for $1.25 a quarter cup.