Help me get my red enchilada sauce on!
June 7, 2012 8:51 AM   Subscribe

I have a terrific jar of a sort of paste that my husband made from dried New Mexico and guajillo chiles that were skinned, seeded, reconstituted, blended into a puree, then strained (or perhaps run through a food mill - I was asleep). I'd like to use this paste as an ingredient in an awesome red enchilada sauce. Do you have recipes to share?
posted by ersatzkat to Food & Drink (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
For me, enchilada sauce is very simple (as a Northerner; I'm sure many who are more steeped in Mexican/Southwest/TexMex would disagree). Here's what I would do...

Heat up a 1/3 cup of corn oil
Saute about 2 finely chopped white onions
Pinch of salt
Add as much of your paste as you like (I would start with 2 tablespoons and go from there)
Add 6+ cloves of garlic, finely minced
When the garlic is fragrant, 3-4 cups of diced tomatoes (I frequently used canned)
Kick in 1 tablespoon of sugar (more or less to your preference)
Another pinch of salt, a few healthy grinds of black pepper
Cook this down until the tomatoes start to dissolve and the whole thing looks more saucy
Blend this into as fine a puree as you can with a blender, food mill, food processor, stick blender or your favorite implement of destruction
When your finished, add about a 1/4 cup each of chopped cilantro leaves and lime juice, and adjust seasoning

Double, triple or quadruple this recipe and freeze for use up to several months
posted by slogger at 9:13 AM on June 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This recipe describes what I do when I make red chile sauce (and I agree with the author that the roux and the gradual introduction of the chile thereto is the key to smooth, non-bitter sauce). What you already have is basically Step 1, so I would mix the chopped garlic, oregano, and water into your paste, blend, and then just start from Step 2. Use Mexican oregano if you can find it -- the flavor is a bit different.
posted by vorfeed at 9:23 AM on June 7, 2012 [3 favorites]

That's also a good start for a mole sauce as well!
posted by Max Power at 11:37 AM on June 7, 2012

I think vorfeed's recipe is a winner, except for one thing.

It needs cumin. Cumin is the taste that makes enchilada sauce different than everything else (at least to my Tex-Mex palate). Add cumin to it and it'll be a winner, I'm sure.
posted by SNWidget at 11:49 AM on June 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'd try it both with cumin and without, and see which you like best. I agree that it might make it more of a Tex-Mex thing -- New Mexican red chile tends to be minimalist.
posted by vorfeed at 1:04 PM on June 7, 2012

Response by poster: Tried this on Saturday using your recipe, vorfeed, and it definitely got me in the right direction! My husband had already added garlic and oregano (Mexican!) to the jar of paste when he made it, so even fewer steps, yay! We used a can of low sodium chicken stock and then the rest of the liquid was water, and that worked out well. The only thing I want to try is to introduce some kind of tomato into the sauce - I feel like the restaurant sauces I've loved have some other savory note in them that I could only define as kind of rich and tomatoey, but it could also just be the blend of dried peppers at the beginning. I'd love to hear any other recommendations to nudge things in that direction. Thanks so much!
posted by ersatzkat at 11:44 AM on June 12, 2012

It probably is tomato sauce/paste. The purist in me shudders at the thought, but the rest of me thinks that you could add a small can of good tomato sauce (or whisk in a tablespoon or two of tomato paste) during the "cook the sauce" step and see how that goes...
posted by vorfeed at 11:57 AM on June 12, 2012

Seriously, though, this is one of those base recipes which lends itself to variation! Don't be afraid to mess with it -- you could even make a huge batch up to the "cook the sauce" step, split it into 3 or 4 pans, and try several different things until you get it the way you want.
posted by vorfeed at 12:03 PM on June 12, 2012

Response by poster: Yeah, we're super-stoked to start messing with it! I think the first thing is to experiment with different peppers - I have *adored* that boxed Knorr sauce (I know, I know) you can buy that's made only with guajillos, so I'm thinking we play around more with those. My husband is super-mad-scientist-dude when it comes to messing around with projects like this in the kitchen, so your link was just what we needed to get started!
posted by ersatzkat at 12:36 PM on June 13, 2012

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