GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - Since opening its doors last December, Pajarito has received rave reviews for its creative, non-traditional approach to Mexican-inspired food.

With that in mind, KARE 11 challenged Chef Tyge Nelson to come up with fresh ideas for transforming traditional Thanksgiving leftovers – and he delivered!

If you’ve been serving up the same old “day-after-Thanksgiving” dishes for years, we suggest it may be time to follow his advice, and step things up by taking things south of the border.

Here are a couple of his suggestions:

  • Transform either leftover cranberries or cranberry relish into a sweet and spicy Cranberry Salsa with a bit of onion, jalapeno, lime juice and cilantro. It’s great over tacos, turkey or pork – or simply served with tortilla chips.
  • For a recipe that will elevate leftover turkey from so-so to showstopper, try making his recipe for Turkey Enchiladas with Salsa Manchamantel.

Pajarito Turkey Enchiladas with Salsa Manchamantel
Serves 6-8 (Approx. 24 enchiladas)

Manchamantel “tablecloth stainer” is a smoky-sweet, glorious sauce that is a specialty of Oaxaca, Mexico, and is considered one of the Mother sauces of Mexican cuisine. If you end up with extra it freezes well. In addition to turkey, it pairs beautifully with pork, chicken and seafood, such as lobster and shrimp. Try it in tacos or over rice.

Don’t be intimidated by the list of ingredients. This dish isn’t difficult or complex. Roasting and toasting the chiles and spices goes fairly quickly. And the final result is definitely worth it!

Ingredients for Manchamantel Sauce*:
(If you prefer a short cut, look for a good quality mole or enchilada sauce at your local grocer or Mexican specialty shop.)

1 ½ lbs Tomatoes, Fresh whole
2 White Onions, peeled and quartered
5 Dried Ancho Chiles, Stemmed and Seeded
3 Dried Guajillo Chiles, Stemmed and Seeded
3 Chipotle Mecca Chiles, stemmed
6 cloves Garlic, unpeeled
½ C Sesame Seeds, Toasted
½ C Almonds, Roasted
¼ stick soft Stick Cinnamon
1 T Black Peppercorns
3 Whole Cloves
1 t Allspice
1 t Cumin Seeds
6 C Chicken or Turkey Stock
4 T Lard or Vegetable oil
½ C Raisins
2 Green Plantains, Peeled and rough chopped
1 T Kosher Salt
½ t Black Pepper


1. Place the tomatoes on a sheet pan and place in a 450-500 degree oven. Roast until the skins are blistered and the tomatoes are cooked through. Remove and allow to cool.
2. Toss the onions in 2 T vegetable oil and place on a sheet pan. Roast until charred and soft. Remove and allow to cool.
3. Toss the almonds in a small amount of oil place on a sheet pan and place in the oven for 5-7 minutes, or until they start to turn golden, remove from the pan and place in a small bowl.
4. Place the garlic in a dry pan over medium heat and allow to roast in their skins until charred in spots and soft. Allow to cool and then peel.
5. Toast each of the spices in a dry pan individually, just until they start to turn aromatic. Remove to a small plate and allow to cool.
6. Toast each of the chiles in a dry pan over medium heat until they have started to change color and become aromatic. Place all chiles in a bowl, cover with warm water and allow to rehydrate for 15-20 minutes. Once chiles have softened, place in the bowl of a blender along with the spices. Add just enough of the soaking liquid to allow the mixture to work through the blades. Puree until smooth.
7. Place the lard in the bottom of a stock pot over medium high heat. Allow to heat until just the point of smoking. Carefully add the chile puree to the hot lard. (Caution: It will splatter, be careful!) Turn heat to medium and allow to cook until the sauce has thickened to a peanut butter consistency.
8. While the chiles are reducing, puree the tomatoes, onions, garlic, almonds, raisins, plantains. Puree until smooth, adding stock to the blender to allow the mix to work through the blades. Once the chile mix has reduced, add the tomato puree and the rest of the stock. Allow to reduce slowly over medium low heat until it reaches a heavy cream consistency. Remove from the heat and place in a shallow pan in the cooler to chill.

For the Filling:
2 lbs Cooked and Shredded Turkey meat
1 Onion, Diced
2 Cloves Garlic, Sliced
1 bunch Cilantro, Chopped
1 Serrano Chile, seeded and minced
2 C Shredded Monterrey Jack Cheese
1Tbsp Cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium sauté pan, heat 2 T Vegetable/Canola Oil. Add onion and serrano, and sauté for 3-4 minutes until wilted and soft. Add garlic and cumin and sauté for 1 more minute. Remove from the heat and pour over the turkey. Allow to cool and add the cilantro and cheese. Mix until thoroughly combined.

To Assemble:
9x13 Cake pan --
24-6” White Corn Tortillas
Canola or Vegetable for frying.
Sheet pan lined with paper towels or a cooling grate.
1 C Shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
½ C Cotija Cheese
½ C Mexican Crema or Sour Cream

1. Place enough oil in a pan to cover the bottom by approximately ¼-1/2 inch. Place over medium heat. Using a set of tongs, carefully, dip the tortillas one at a time into the hot oil. Gently fry on one side for 15 seconds and do the same on the other side. The tortilla should just start to crisp around the edges and should be pliable in the middle, Place on the sheet pan to drain. Continue with the rest of the tortillas.
2. In the bottom of the cake pan ladle 4-5 oz. of sauce to coat the entire bottom of the pan, set aside.
3. Once all the tortillas are cooked, place a tortilla on a cutting board, add approximately 2-3 T of filling on the bottom third of the tortilla. Spread out the filling to span the width of the tortilla. Roll the mixture tightly and place in the pan. Repeat with the rest of the tortillas and stack closely next to each other in the pan. Ladle the rest of the sauce over the top of the tortillas. Over the top.
4. Place in a 350 degree oven for approximately 30 minutes, or until cooked through and filling is melted and gooey. Remove from the oven and set aside for 5-10 minutes to allow to cool slightly and allow to set.