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
(makes 5 to 6 cups, enough for two standard enchilada recipes)

Ingredients

6 dried New Mexican chiles
4 dried ancho chiles
4 dried chiles de arbol
2 cups chicken stock
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
1/2 tablespoon Kosher salt

Method

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.

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14 thoughts on “Red Enchilada Sauce

  1. I usually make a big batch of enchilada sauce and then freeze the extra.. in fact, just pulled some out last night.

    I find that the most important step is to blister the chilies before soaking them — with a dry roast as you did, and/or frying them in oil. Otherwise, they give off a bitter/off flavor.

    Well done!

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  2. I need to find some dried chilis, I don't come across them very often. Would Penzey's have them you think? We just got a store not far from my house…haven't been yet but have been wanting to. Do you just find them at your grocery store? Maybe my Fresh Market will have them…

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  3. Aggie, you should be able to get them at Penzey's – I've been there before, too – but typically I find them at either a) a Mexican market or b) Albertson's, Ralph's or the like (Publix for you, yes?) in the Mexican foods section. It's usually the latter since even though I have a bajillion Mexican markets nearby, I don't find myself going to them as often as I should. πŸ˜‰

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  4. Pingback: Chicken Enchiladas | Hunt, Cook, Eat

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