Monday, April 25, 2011

Red Enchilada Sauce

I'd been wanting to make my own enchilada sauce for a while now and I had a couple of failed attempts before hitting it out of the park with this one. The best part was trusting my own instincts - I searched in vain, for quite some time, for a recipe I felt was "right" before realizing that the right one would, of course, be the one I made all by myself.

And so it was. It knocked our flippin' socks off.

Red Enchilada Sauce


6 dried New Mexican chiles
4 dried ancho chiles
4 dried chiles de arbol
2 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon New Mexican oregano
1/2 tablespoon Kosher salt


Cut the heads off the chiles and shake out all the seeds. Cut the chiles up with a pair of scissors (or rip them by hand) into large pieces.

Heat a large skillet on medium low. Place the dried chile pieces on the skillet to heat, pressing down to blister. Turn the chiles over and heat a few seconds more.

Bring a small pot of water to boil. Place the chiles into a non-reactive bowl and pour enough boiling water into the bowl to cover the chiles. Place a lid over the bowl and allow to sit for at least an hour, to soften the chiles.

Pull the chiles out of the soaking water and place in a blender with the chicken stock, tomato sauce, garlic, cumin, oregano and salt. Blend until liquefied, about a minute.

At this point, you can strain the sauce through a fine mesh strainer over a bowl or pan, but I don't bother. I've done it before, but since my blender works well enough to only leave a little chile piece or two, I like to leave it as is. I think the sauce has more character that way.

There is no real sweetness or tartness here, except what you get from the blend of pure chiles and tomatoes. This is a smoky, savory, slightly spicy enchilada sauce. Just as I wanted it.