Can This Sauce Be Saved?
August 15, 2012 2:06 PM   Subscribe

Is this mexican-type enchilada sauce redeemable?

I have wanted to try to make a poblano-type sauce for a long time. So I got some dried chiles (Anaheims, in that I thought that they would be milder), and rehydrated them in hot water for about a half hour.

I sauteed some garlic, onions, and a bit of fresh serrano, and then added the chiles, with some dried coriander. After frying for awhile, all this went into the food processor, along with enough of the cooking water to give it the texture I wanted.

The first issue that came up with the skins from the chiles, which I had not (and did not think I could) removed. So I put the mixture through a sieve, and ended up with a smaller amount of sauce, but no chunks of hard skin.

This sauce is WAY too hot, to the point of causing one's airway to close up. It could be used in near-homeopathic amounts, I suppose, but if I were to cover enchiladas with it and serve them, I might hurt people. With all the heat, it does not have a lot of flavor either.

Is there any way to save this other than putting it in the compost? There is nothing tomato-related in it right now. Would processing it with some stewed tomatoes bring down the hotness?
posted by Danf to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Pour the sauce into an ice cube tray and freeze it. The next time you make a pot of chili, just toss in a frozen hot sauce cube.
posted by Faint of Butt at 2:11 PM on August 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

Cut the sauce with tomato sauce.
posted by pickypicky at 2:14 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

You can use some tomato sauce, then just a bit of vinegar. Try a bit of broth as well.

In the future the best home made enchilada sauce is made from powdered chili and broth (chicken is good, but veggie can be okay too). (There it is, I said it.)

If you do it from fresh chilies the best way is to char the skins first. I use a barbecue, but you can use a burner on a gas stove, just put the fan on! (The smoke can be pungent.) Set them aside covered in plastic, rub the skins off when cooked.

Beer can also take down the heat level, and is a good cure for scorched stuff.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:18 PM on August 15, 2012

Definitely add some very low sodium broth, chicken or veggie, as suggested. I'd say add about half as much broth as you have sauce now. Simmer a good long while to reduce the sauce and thicken.

If it's still too hot at that point, add small amounts of crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce and keep tasting. I wouldn't use too much tomato product, though.
posted by ronofthedead at 2:41 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

You can cool it by making it more of a creamy sauce, because dairy calms burning mouths (and if your mouth is still stinging from the taste you had, hold some milk in your mouth for a few seconds -- something to do with the proteins in milk, see here). You'll have to wing it using various recipes as inspiration, but here's two I somewhat randomly picked: Cilantro Serrano Cream Sauce and Creamy Poblano Sauce.
posted by Houstonian at 2:42 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

We're they whole dried chilies? Next time you might want to pull the stems off and shake out the seeds before soaking.

Regarding your current problem, I might try repeating the same procedure but omitting the serranos and using bell peppers in place of the poblanos, and possibly adding some tomato paste. Then mix together. Basically, you'd be cutting the heat of the current batch in half by diluting it into a bland mix which has the same flavour profile. The tomato paste tends to dull out the other flavours a bit as well, in my experience.

My instinct would be that if all you do is cut what you've got with tomatoes it won't taste right.

Beyond that, the cheese of the completed enchilada will also tend to undercut the heat of the naked sauce --- the completed dish won't be nearly so hot with all that dairy in it. Don't despair!
posted by Diablevert at 2:49 PM on August 15, 2012

We're they whole dried chilies? Next time you might want to pull the stems off and shake out the seeds before soaking.

I did that, but was left with the skin. I considered removing it, but it did not look like I would have much chile flesh left over.
posted by Danf at 2:57 PM on August 15, 2012

It absolutely sounds redeemable to me. Personally, I'd make a tomato-based sauce with a Mexican flavor profile (garlic, onions, cumin, coriander, diced tomatoes, a bit of chicken stock, that sort of thing) and work the overly-hot sauce into it until I liked the result. A bit of vinegar at the end to perk it up, too.

I have better luck pureeing sauces in a blender, rather than a food processor. I've never bothered to remove the skins of dried chilies, just blend 'em smooth. Though I will strain if I'm making condiment-style hot sauce.
posted by farmerd at 3:03 PM on August 15, 2012

1. Combine with peanut butter, cocoa, and some chicken broth for a delicious makeshift mole.
2. Put on everything.
3. ???
4. Profit.
posted by anonnymoose at 3:07 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

(Anaheim peppers have almost no heat. I'm pretty confident that the heat is coming from the serranos.)
posted by Houstonian at 3:15 PM on August 15, 2012

Faint of Butt had it--freeze it in ice cube trays, it has a great future as a seasoning in all kinds of things.

You might try a small amount of the existing sauce and cut it with tomatoes or roasted red peppers, something sweet, and simmer for a long time and then puree, adding more as you want more heat.

I don't think it's ruined exactly--it's just got to be repurposed.

Nthing that it was probably the serranos.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:20 PM on August 15, 2012

Would processing it with some stewed tomatoes bring down the hotness?

BTW if you do this or something like it, don't try to go 50/50 but rather add a little of the concentrated sauce at a time until you're happy. If you keep track of how much you're adding, you'll wind up with a good sense of the ratio you need in the future.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:23 PM on August 15, 2012

I'd roast up a heap of other fruits and veggies - peaches, tomatos, tomatillos, an onion, some garlic, carrots, etc. and then blend all of that together, adding the original hot sauce as you go. You'll end up with a lot more, quantity-wise, and it will be more salsa than hot sauce, but it will be delicious.
posted by judith at 3:52 PM on August 15, 2012

You can salvage this!

If you made a large amount you may want to divide it and freeze half first.

I suggest approaching the problem from two points - flavor and diluting the heat. To dilute the heat you must add more ingredients. Possibilities are roasted pureed red bell peppers, tomatillos, tomatoes and more onion. Enhancing the flavor could be achieved with cumin,
vinegar (sherry or red wine), cocoa, lime juice. Ingredients which serve both approaches are beer, tequila and a good broth or stock.

Don't cook it down - it will just increase the heat. Try one addition at a time and taste. Keep notes to help when you use the other half in the future.

The flavor will be less intense once it is served with the dish, especially if it includes dairy.
posted by cat_link at 4:31 PM on August 15, 2012

I did that, but was left with the skin. I considered removing it, but it did not look like I would have much chile flesh left over.

Yeah, if you use dried peppers, you gotta blitz the sauce and then strain through a fine sieve. Smooshing it with the back of a large spoon is the way to go.

posted by Specklet at 4:37 PM on August 15, 2012

Anaheim peppers have almost no heat.

That depends. Grocery store Anaheims are usually quite tame, but literally some of the hottest peppers I've ever eaten were Anaheims from my own garden. And I have no problem eating habaneros from the jar. It all depends on the growing environment. If these were farmer's market Anaheims, they may have been quite hot.

I would just make another batch, using dried pasilla and/or ancho chiles, and then blend the two batches together. I would not put tomatoes in it, but that's just my preference.

The skins aren't making it hotter, BTW, but they might be adding a bitter aftertaste. Personally, I like that, but many people don't.
posted by bricoleur at 6:18 PM on August 15, 2012

If you have no real flavor going on, there really isn't anything to save. I'd just start over. Or keep it as a hot sauce that you use by the drop on tacos.

If Wikipedia is to be believed, enchilada sauce is tomato based. So consider that.
posted by gjc at 7:40 AM on August 16, 2012

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