Chiles Roja Fresca Enchilada Sauce Recipe
September 2, 2011 1:24 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a red enchilada sauce recipe which is based on fresh (not dried) red chile peppers.

We received our annual shipment of Hatch New Mexico Green Chiles last week, and I roasted them up and froze them for later use. However, there was a small selection of the 20# which were pretty red by the time we got them so I set them aside in a green bag in the fridge and thought I'd make traditional stacked New Mexico red enchiladas with a sauce made from them.

However, my google-fu is failing me, and I'm not finding any enchilada sauce recipes which use red chile peppers as the primary ingredient. Plenty use dried peppers, some suggest adding some fresh red for an extra kick, but nothing which will let me create a magical yummy sauce using mainly these fresh reds which I set aside.

I'm hoping someone out there either has better luck finding recipes than I'm having today and can link me to something, or someone has experience with adapting dried chile pepper recipes to use fresh peppers, or someone even has an heirloom recipe hiding waiting for exactly this moment to share with someone like me.

Barring that, giving me an explanation of why I should give up on my quest to make a sauce using only fresh red peppers is also acceptable. But I'm a skeptic by nature, so you'll have to actually explain why.
posted by hippybear to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Most of the enchilada sauce recipes I'm seeing want you to partially re-hydrate the dried peppers (toasting them to bring out the oils, then soaking them to soften) before simply blending them together with the other ingredients. To my (non-professionally-trained) enchilada-loving eyes that just means you can skip the re-hydration step and go straight to blending.

Maybe also adjust down the amount of tomato/paste you use, as the extra water from the fresh chilis will go a ways towards providing the correct consistency. I'd probably start low, blending in half or less of the recommended amount of tomato/paste, and add more if necessary.
posted by carsonb at 1:33 PM on September 2, 2011

I would roast them on a gas stove.
posted by skbw at 2:15 PM on September 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Mmmm... I love chile season! Whether the chiles are dried or roasted, the skins will be tough. I would recommend doing the same thing, as in boiling and blending, though maybe for less time.
posted by annsunny at 2:45 PM on September 2, 2011

Best answer: Barring that, giving me an explanation of why I should give up on my quest to make a sauce using only fresh red peppers is also acceptable. But I'm a skeptic by nature, so you'll have to actually explain why.

Once green chiles turn red they become quite perishable. Traditionally, red chile is almost always sold dried, which is why you're finding it hard to find fresh-red-only recipes -- even in NM you rarely find people selling fresh red chile specifically. Sometimes you see fresh ristras early in the season, but even then, most people hang them to dry...!

Here's a fresh-red-only recipe which looks great to me, though!
posted by vorfeed at 3:01 PM on September 2, 2011

Definitely char them under the broiler or in a cast iron skillet then let sit in a plastic bag or covered to loosen the skins. This gives you more flavor! Peel off the charred skin and you'll be left with the tender yummy pepper flesh. Take out the core/seeds then use the pepper flesh like you would in a recipe calling for dried chiles. You probably will need to add less liquid to get the same consistency for the sauce but a one to one substitution should work.
posted by wilky at 3:08 PM on September 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Wow, that recipe looks great, vorfeed. I wish I'd read it before I (literally, 2 minutes ago) got done roasting the peppers for peeling!

Damn my ingrained Hatch chile habits! That's what happens when you grow up in southern NM, I suppose.

Maybe I'll try that recipe with the peeled chiles anyway.

Of course, I'm still open for other recipe suggestions.
posted by hippybear at 3:32 PM on September 2, 2011

Yeah, the problem you're running in to is that enchilada sauce is made from dried chiles not only because they're more readily available, but because the flavor is chile-er. The oils get concentrated once they dry, resulting in that great dried chile taste.

You won't make a traditional sauce from fresh ones, because you'll be going against tradition. Roasting and pureeing is your best option. Flavor with lightly cooked onion/garlic, then blend with some water. Beware -- hatch chiles can be HOT, so you may need to dilute with some tomato.

If you want it to taste more like a traditional NM sauce, I'd throw in some *good* NM chile powder. Or, you know, dried chiles. But then you're back to square one.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:52 PM on September 2, 2011

I'm sure that recipe will still work with roasted chiles. I agree that you'll probably want to add some reconstituted dried chile or chile powder to the fresh ones, but you might wait until they're cooking and see how the sauce tastes... sample it 3/4 of the way through the simmer step, and if it tastes like it needs something, you could throw some dried chile in.

This is a wonderful time of year, isn't it? I bought some top-quality bacon and eggs this week, specifically in order to smother them in green chile...
posted by vorfeed at 3:59 PM on September 2, 2011

Response by poster: Oh, man. Ever since I found a quality source for green chile, my life has immeasurably improved. And the two weeks right after the shipment arrives are the best of all. Rellenos galore. Plus all the chiles I freeze to use for cooking throughout the year.

The best thing is, the chiles are actually hot enough to please us. There's nothing like that full body flush, sudden rush of sweat starting from your scalp and moving down, and the knowledge that if you stop eating the chile it's just going to get worse so you keep eating until it's all gone... Then the lingering endorphin rush... It's one of the reasons being alive is worthwhile.

Anyway, chiles are peeled now... still looking for recipes, although the more I read vorfeed's link the more it looks good to me.
posted by hippybear at 4:12 PM on September 2, 2011

Response by poster: Okay, I've gone with vorfeed's link, although I roasted the chiles and used about 2-3x as many chiles as suggested. (The whole "this could be a soup" thing kind of turned me off -- I want this to be a sauce, not a soup, so I'm making it overly thick.)

It has a while to cook and then dinner will happen, and I'll update everyone with how it all came out.

Thanks to everyone for their input!
posted by hippybear at 4:39 PM on September 2, 2011

Response by poster: Okay, that was delicious. It didn't have a lot of deep smoky chile flavor, but it had a LOT of fresh roasted chile flavor, and was VERY VERY HOT. I have enough sauce left over to use for a good couple more round of stacked enchiladas.

Anyway, thanks again for everyone's input and insights. I don't know why I was so tentative, but everyone's responses gave me the courage to use these the way I wanted. Sadly, that's the end of the fresh red, so it'll be dried for the rest of the year once the fresh sauce is gone.
posted by hippybear at 7:29 PM on September 2, 2011

Congrats! Got me jonesing for that awesome flavor.

Pssst...What's your source, if you don't mind sharing?
posted by theperfectcrime at 9:02 PM on September 2, 2011

Response by poster: My source for New Mexico green chile is Berridge Farms in Hatch, NM. They're a pretty good deal, even if shipping is spendy, and if you live far away from green chile country and don't mind processing it (roasting and freezing), you can get a supply of green chile which will easily last a year of pretty liberal use for about $100.

They sell various kinds of hot. This year we got Sandia (hot) and Barker (extra hot).

They pick on Monday, ship Fedex Express Service on Tuesday, and it's in your house by Thursday. Roasting 25lbs takes about 6 hours total, I find. And we still have chile from the 2010 harvest in our freezer, so we could be eating it a lot more often than the couple of times a week we have been, especially now that we have 2011 in the freezer as well.
posted by hippybear at 5:00 AM on September 3, 2011

Make some huevos rancheros with the leftover sauce!
posted by signalnine at 11:05 AM on September 3, 2011

I can vouch for Sichler Farms/Snake Ranch in San Antonio. They have the best green chile I've ever tried.
posted by vorfeed at 4:21 PM on September 3, 2011


(I know, it's all sort of the same. I've had green chile from all up and down the state and it's all pretty excellent, and as a genre unequalled by any other green chile in the world.)
posted by hippybear at 6:18 AM on September 4, 2011

Yeah, green chile is and always has been a state-wide crop -- there's a neat article here about the history of chile in Northern NM which goes back at least 200 years. Most people in NM either buy and roast their chile at the supermarket (in which case it probably does come from Hatch, simply because the largest growers are in Hatch: mine came from these guys this year), or they buy local chile. IMHO, the latter is usually the quality option, but "it's all pretty excellent" about sums it up.
posted by vorfeed at 1:45 PM on September 4, 2011

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