Don’t ask me why, but yesterday I got a craving for New Mexican Red Chile Sauce.
Mind you, this is NOT the same thing as those little cans of Enchilada Sauce you see in the stores. Not even close. Red Chile Sauce is made from New Mexican Red Chiles, and it’s earthy, pungent flavor is so unique – it’s really hard to explain to people who have never visited the Southwest.
Other than it’s AMAZINGLY good!
I’m serious, in New Mexico? It’s like ketchup. It goes on EVERYTHING. You may be thinking Mexican foods – Tacos, Burritos, Enchiladas……well sure…. but….
What about a plain baked potato? Yummy! A bowl of rice or beans? You bet! Tofu Scrambles? Oh yeah! Black Bean Veggie Burgers? Oh my gosh…stop!
You get the picture. Anything! And the best part?
It’s 100% fat-free, low in calories, and full of vitamins and nutrients.
And did I mention it’s easy to make? Yes, even way up here in Portland, Oregon. You just have to know how. And this morning, I am going to teach you 🙂
Super easy and with minimal mess. One cookie sheet for baking. One pasta pot for boiling. And a blender.
Let’s get started!
Easy New Mexican Red Chile Sauce
Step 1: First step, we’re going to need some Chiles.
Look in your grocery store’s Mexican food section, where they sell the Pace picante sauce, Taco shells, etc. They should have a little section of dried spices, usually with corn husks for tamales, etc. Look for a big bag of dried New Mexican Red Chile Pods. I know they’re out there as my Walmart here in Portland carries them.
We’re going to need about 20 pods for this recipe so make sure you get the right size bag. And we want the pods – not the powder.
You may see bags labeled California Chile Pods. I personally have never tried them and only use New Mexican Chiles. Although both states grow chiles – the growing conditions around Hatch, NM are such that the chile has a very distinct flavor.
Kind of like buying a store bough tomato compared to one you just picked off a vine.
Sorry California, no offense intended.
Step 2: Roasting
Pick out about 20 of the best looking pods and arrange them on a cookie sheet. We’re going to roast them in a 250 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Just enough to bring out the flavor – but not burn them.
Step 3: Cleaning the Chiles
Once they’re done roasting, let them cool to touch and begin to de-stem and de-seed the chiles. I use kitchen shears to snip off the stem end and dump out all the seeds.
Note: The seeds and membranes inside chile pods (even dried) contain an oil called Capsicum. It is very irritating to some, especially if you rub your eyes, nose, or other sensitive body parts. Wear gloves if you need to – just be careful.
Step 4: Rehydrating the Chiles
Once all your chiles are cleaned, add them to a large pasta pot with enough cold water to cover them and bring to a boil. Once it comes to a simmer, cover and turn off the heat to steam for about 10 minutes.
The chiles will become puffed up and very soft. Perfect.
Step 5: Draining the Chiles
Use tongs (or a slotted spoon) to remove the softened chiles and place them in your blender, saving the water as we’ll need about 2 cups to use for blending. Now some people don’t like using the chile water as it can be a bit bitter. Easy – just use fresh water instead.
Step 6: Blending
To your blender full of chiles, add 2 cups of water (use the chile water or fresh), an 8oz can of Tomato Sauce, and 1/2 tsp each of garlic powder, onion powder, Mexican oregano, cumin, and ¼ tsp salt.
Also, add 2-3 cloves of fresh garlic and about ¼ of a white onion.
Now with your hand securely holding the top of the blender, blend on high until smooth.
Note: Hot chiles and water will create a lot of pressure inside your blender. Make sure you initially hold that lid on tightly, so we don’t have any explosive accidents.
Note: Something else to note here….Red Chile stains. Clean up spills immediately and you’ll be fine. Also – speaking from experience….. I really don’t recommend wearing anything white.
Step 7: Straining (optional)
Taste and adjust seasoning accordingly.
Now at this point, some people like to strain their finished Red Chile Sauce through a sieve to make it even smoother. This removes any small pieces of chile skin or seeds.
I don’t. It takes a lot more time, it’s very messy, and I personally like it a little chunky. Besides, it tastes so good at this point I can’t bear to throw any of it away!
Your choice but it does not strain easily. You’ll have to use a rubber spatula and really work the sauce through the sieve.
Call me lazy, but I like it just as it is.
Step 8: Devour
The best step! Enjoy!
Potatoes, rice, beans, tacos, enchiladas, burritos, tofu scrambles, toast, biscuits, corn, vegetables.
Think of it like gravy – try it on everything!
New Mexico is truly an enchanting place. I lived in Albuquerque for almost 10 years and of all the things I miss…… the food is probably on top of the list, namely the Chiles.
Now you can have a little piece of New Mexico wherever you happen to live.