Turkey (or Chicken) Taco Casserole

04cturkeytacosbzloThe “big” day was done.

The turkey – brown sugar, cider, and bourbon – was enjoyed, but…

What to do with all those leftovers?

Enter this recipe for spicy baked tacos, originally developed by The Cookie Rookie for the folk at Old El Paso foods. It is dead simple to toss together, totally tasty, and really, a pretty darned good way to use up at least some of that feast day bird.

01atacoshellsbzloI mean, c’mon, how many turkey sammiches can you handle?

•10 or 12 stand and fill taco shells
•1 tbsp olive oil
•1 cup onion, diced
01dturkeytomatochilesbzlo•2 cups shredded cooked chicken or turkey
•1 can (14.5 oz) diced fire-roasted tomatoes
•1 can chopped jalapeños*
•2 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce
•1 tsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper Sauce – or your favorite hot sauce, to taste
•1 tsp Mexican blend seasoning
•1 tsp 21 Seasoning Salute
•1/2 tsp Steak Seasoning
•1/2 tsp Chipotle Roasted Garlic Seasoning
•1 can (16 oz) refried black beans
•2+ cups shredded Monterey Jack Cheese

Cranberry Chipotle Sauce
•Sour cream
•Pickled jalapeños
•Shredded lettuce

No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No problem! Simply substitute one tablespoon of decent sherry, and add a bit more of your fave hot sauce. Or… leave it out entirely… I love it, but it is not a deal breaker.

02baddturkeybzloA note on the seasonings. I did not bother to buy a packet of taco seasoning because, well, I have a pretty impressive (if I do say so myself) spice assortment. By all means save yourself some time and effort and pick up a packet – why not Old El Paso? – and skip all those other spice blends I used.

Heat your oven to 400º, apply cooking spray to a 13×9 glass baking pan, and set aside.

02dreducedbzloAdd the olive oil to a medium pan and warm over medium heat.

Add the onion and cook for eight minutes or so, until the onion is tender.

Stir the turkey, tomatoes, jalapeños, and seasonings into the onion and simmer until the cooking liquid has been mostly reduced – mebbe 20 minutes.

Note: you could save cooking time by draining the tomatoes before adding to the pan, but, I rather liked adding that liquid and getting a bit more moisture and flavor into the turkey.

03ashellsbeansbzloFilling made, you are almost ready to put the casserole together!

Arrange your taco shells in the baking pan – the original recipe called for using ten shells, perfect, since they come in packs of ten, but, my baking pan could take two more, and we did have folk coming over for dinner, so…

03caddcheesebzloA quick not on the refried beans. We prefer refried black beans, so I used a can of those. I also chose to soften the beans in the ‘wave before adding them to the shells. Ermmm, I also stirred a tablespoon of Sherry Peppers Sauce and a teaspoon of Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper Sauce into the beans  before ‘waving for about 90 seconds. You do what you want.

Spread the refried beans in the bottom of the taco shells, then top with the turkey mixture.

04abakedbzloTop the turkey with the shredded cheese, then pop the whole shebang into the oven for 14 minutes or so – until the cheese is nicely melted and the edges of the taco shells are browned.

Remove from the oven and serve with your preferred toppings.

Tasty tacos!

And, really, wicked simple to toss together.

Go ahead, you know you have some turkey stashed in the freezer. Make a taco casserole and share the goodness.

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