Pumpkin Enchilada Casserole with Red Chile Sauce and Poblano-Pepita Salsa

Ancho (Ahn-cho) Chile (Capsicum Annum) means Wide Chile Pepper. This chile ranges from 3 – 4 on a heat scale of 1 to 10. An Ancho is the dried form of a Poblano Pepper and often is mislabeled as a Pasilla or Mulato Pepper. Anchos have sweet fruity flavor with hints of cherry, prune, and fig. Anchos, combined with the Pasilla and Guajillo, form the Holy Trinity of chiles used to prepare the traditional mole sauces. Scoville heat units are 1,000 to 3,000.

Suggested Use:
Anchos are great in salsa, soups, enchilada and any sauce needing mild heat and chile flavor. Chopped, pureed or ground, they can be added directly to your recipes.

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3 oz. dried California chiles (about 10)
3/4 oz. dried ancho chiles (about 2)
6 large cloves garlic, peeled
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. all-purpose flour
1 Tbs. light brown sugar
Kosher salt

For the Filling:
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 large yellow onion, cut into small dice
4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbs. ground cumin
3 cups 1/2-inch-diced peeled, seeded pumpkin
1/2 cup lower-salt chicken broth or vegetable broth
2 cups diced leftover skinless roast turkey or rotisserie chicken (optional)
Kosher salt
For Assembly:
Olive oil
Ten 6-inch corn tortillas
3 cups packed grated Monterey Jack cheese (3/4 lb.)
1 recipe Poblano-Pepita Salsa (see recipe on website)
Crema Mexicana or sour cream, for serving


Make the sauce:
Stem, seed, and rinse the chiles. Put the chiles, garlic, oregano, and 3 cups water in a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chiles and garlic are very tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover, and let stand for 30 minutes. Purée in a blender.

Heat the olive oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and stir until it begins to color, 2 to 3 minutes. Carefully stir in the chile mixture—it will spatter—and bring to a boil. Stir in the sugar and 2 tsp. salt. Keep warm.

Make the Filling:
Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until nicely browned, about 11 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the cumin and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the pumpkin and stir to coat. Lower the heat to medium, add the broth, cover, and simmer until the pumpkin is just tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the turkey (if using) and season to taste with salt.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Brush a 9×13-inch baking dish with olive oil. Spread 3/4 cup of the sauce evenly over the bottom of the dish. Heat a griddle or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat and brush lightly with oil. One at a time, heat 5 tortillas until softened and pliable, about 1 minute per side. Arrange the griddled tortillas over the sauce in the pan (you can cut them to fit if necessary). Spread 1/2 cup sauce over the tortillas. Spoon the filling evenly over the sauce and top with 1 cup cheese. Drizzle 1/2 cup of the sauce over the cheese. Heat the remaining tortillas on the griddle. Arrange the tortillas evenly over the sauce, filling, and cheese. Spread the remaining sauce over the tortillas and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake until the cheese bubbles and the casserole is heated through, 30 to 35 minutes. Let sit for at least 10 minutes before serving with the salsa and crema.

Serves 6-8.

Recipe by Jeanne Kelley via finecooking.com