Mexican Series#4 Red Enchilada Sauce

In the picture: Puffed up ancho chile

I used to buy Enchilada Sauce from the supermarket, but I started looking for alternatives as soon as i tasted it. Call me a curious cat, but I just had to know what the real thing tasted like. A couple of searches on chowhound revealed long and passionate discussions on "real" Enchilada Red Sauce, but all of these discussions had a couple of ingredients in common, Mexican Chiles(Ancho, Guajillos),Garlic, Onions, Cumin and Pepper. Many had flour added to thicken the sauce but I could not stomach that idea.

Finally, I ended up going to my sourcebook, Authentic Mexican by Rick Bayless- and I must say his recipe makes a pretty darn good Enchilada Sauce, without flour.This is the first time Ive ended up cooking through an entire book and its been quite a learning experience and the entire Mexican series is from that book.

To those who are short on time, Dont think enchilada sauce, think chutney. When you know what ingredients to throw together and puree - the whole process is a breeze. If you donot have time to toast the chiles as Bayless suggests, just soak the chiles in water and puree with some pre chopped garlic, pepper and cumin.I have taken this route before and It tasted similiar to the elaborate method that he outlines.

Now the mexican style of cooking is similiar to ours, so the recipe below is more of a suggestion rather than a very fixed thing. If you saute onion and garlic and add some tomato to the sauce below it becomes Salsa roja or Western Texas Enchilada Sauce. So do feel free to experiment.

Red Enchilada Sauce Recipe:

4 clove garlic, unpeeled
4 medium dried chiles guajillos
6 medium dried chiles anchos
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
2 cups any poultry broth, plus a little more if needed.
Salt, abt 1 tsp
Sugar 1 pinch if needed

Heat a heavy skillet or griddle over medium then lay the garlic on one side to roast. Tear the chillies into flat pieces and, few at a time, press them against the hot surface with a metal spatula, flip them over and press again; you will see them blister and change color.

( I was too lazy to strip the chillies into flat pieces, I just toasted them whole, they blistered up just fine - Look at the Picture above - Also I halved the quantities of the chiles but kept 4 garlic cloves- Even half the chiles makes a whole lot of sauce. You can buy mexican chiles at your local farmers market, My supermarket carries the goya brand.If you are apprehensive about buying two varieties of chiles that you may not use for other things, try out the recipe with only one chile type- still tastes great)

Dunk into hot water, and soak for atleast an hour, preferably 2 -3 hours. Turn the garlic frequently for 15 min or so, until blackened and soft within. Cool and then peel.

Now remove the stems from the chiles and puree with all the other ingredients.

(You can also add some cider vinegar or lime juice - which i liked - added a little tang to my sauce. While pureeing, you shouldnt add much water. The sauce will be thick. You can adjust the thickness of the sauce adding as much of the soaking water as you like. Adjust salt and sugar according to your taste)

This sauce keeps well for a long, long time in a glass jar in the Referigerator. It has a deep red ochre color that is really alluring.

Stay tuned for the next post on Authentic Mexican Street Style Enchiladas.


Unknown said...

Nice one..have nt tried much of mexican stuff at ome..will try this

zlamushka said...

Wow, MS; I love the sauce you made here. The book you feature sounds great, I will check it out soon.

ms said...

Divya: Thanks for stopping by. If you try the recipe , do let me know how it goes.
Zlamushka: Welcome! Authentic Mexican is a really cool cookbook with the attention to detail that Rick Bayless pays.

Pete said...

I stopped reading after "i was too lazy to tear the chiles into strips"

really? if I cooked with you, I'd chew your ass out.

Anonymous said...

Hey there, I just looked over your recipe, and it sounds really similar to what my mom does for red mole sauce! I'm excited and can't wait to try this!

Oh, and my mom doesn't tear the chiles into strips either, she toasts them whole too. Whoever criticizes you for "being too lazy" is a bad word who should keep his comments to himself.

Unknown said...

my mom got me the Rick Bayless cookbook a long time ago. I love to cook, but never tried any of the recipes. today i did, and made enchiladas rojoas. the sauce was SPOT ON with anything i have had here in San Diego, or Baja Cali (Mexico).

mom would be proud, RIP.