Moose Enchiladas Rancheras

Like you, I'm sometimes too busy to cook an entire meal from scratch. When that happens—and it happens often—I find no shame in opting for convenience over culinary flair. Sure some of those other snooty chef bloggers out there might scoff, but I'm a man of the people, and a former latchkey kid, so leftovers and canned goods are fine by me. Of course, I still have the urge to doctor things up, as I did with this enchilada recipe. It incorporates some leftover shredded moose I had in the refrigerator and a few cans of enchilada sauce from the cupboard. If you want to make your enchilada sauce from scratch, feel free to use my Chili Colorado recipe as a guide, but don't be ashamed of those cans in your pantry. Put them to good use.

Note: I am including the original directions for the braised moose with this recipe. It’s a pretty universal technique, with the addition of a can of Guinness, which is about the ideal braising liquid for big cuts of rich red meat. Once you’ve got your venison roast braised and shredded, you can eat on it all week long in any number of repurposed ways.

Moose Enchiladas Rancheras

Ingredients

For the braised moose:
2 Tbsp. canola oil
3-4 lb. moose roast
Kosher salt
1 can Guinness
1 cup game (or beef) stock

For the ranchera sauce:
2 Tbsp. olive oil
½ medium onion, chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 chipotle pepper in adobo, minced
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. oregano
2 cans enchilada sauce

For the enchiladas:
1 cup Colby jack cheese, shredded
1 cup queso fresco, crumbled

1 Tbsp. olive oil
½ medium onion, sliced
1-2 bell peppers, seeded and sliced

10-12 corn tortillas

Directions

1. Place a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and, once warmed, add the canola oil. Give the moose roast a liberal pinch of kosher salt on all sides. When the oil starts to shimmer, sear the moose roast, turning to brown the top, bottom and sides. Once the roast is browned, pour in the Guinness and game stock. Cover, transfer the Dutch oven to a 300-degree oven and braise for 3 to 4 hours, or until the meat falls apart. Use two forks to shred the moose roast and transfer two cups of meat to a heavy cast-iron pan set over a warm burner.

2. Make the ranchera sauce by heating 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet. Add the diced onion a pinch of salt and the cumin and chili powder. Sauté for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the onions are soft. Transfer the minced garlic to the pan and cook for a minute or so before adding the minced chipotle and any adobo on the cutting board. Pour in the two cans of enchilada sauce and cook at a lower simmer until the sauce is slightly reduced. Season with dried oregano. Add a few spoonfuls of ranchera sauce to the shredded meat to moisten and spread a bit of the sauce onto the bottom of casserole dish.

3. To assemble the enchiladas, wrap the corn tortillas in a moist tea towel and microwave for 25 seconds. Place a small amount of shredded moose in the tortillas and roll tightly. Place the filled tortillas seam side down in the casserole and repeat until the casserole dish is filled. Pour the remaining ranchera sauce over the enchiladas and top with the shredded Colby jack cheese and half of the queso fresco. Place in a 300-degree oven and cook for 30 minutes.

4. As the enchiladas bake, warm a tablespoon of olive oil in a small sauté pan set over medium-high heat. Add the sliced onion and green pepper and cook quickly, stirring often until the vegetables are soft and slightly charred.

5. Remove the enchiladas from the oven, top with the sautéed vegetables and remaining queso fresco. Serve with sour cream and guacamole or sliced avocados