Red Chile Sauce

This is a simplified version of New Mexican red chile sauce. By using the dried pods of flavorful peppers you’re tapping into a rich, deep, traditional flavor. It’s not a hot sauce but almost a stock that enriches and complement the flavors around it.

This recipe is not complete – This sauce needs to cook. One of my grandmother’s pet peeves was when the tomatoes in an Italian Red Sauce “weren’t cooked” – she could identify the slight bitterness that came from a rushed Sunday gravy. Tomato Sauce needs time to mellow and blend and so does the Red Chile Sauce.

Most commonly, I’ll use this sauce as a replacement for a big can of tomatoes in my Chili recipes. I simmer my chili for a while so it has time to mellow and, oddly enough, intensify at the same time. To use as a salsa, you’ll need to bring it to simmer it to reduce the volume by 1/3 to 1/2, depending on how thick you’d like it. For instance, I use this as an Enchilada sauce and reduce it by about 1/3. For a thicker salsa, I’d bring it down to a cup.

Big dried chile pods are (or should be) cheap and I suggest finding a good international market to find different varieties and a lower price than a ‘gourmet’ market. My favorites are Chile Negro, Guajillo Chiles, and Ancho Chiles. An Ancho Chile is a dried poblano pepper…generally mild, but as with all peppers they can vary in intensity from pepper to pepper. Guajillo chiles are a dried mirasol pepper and have a medium spice and a rich flavor. Chile Negro are the hottest of the bunch and these are the dried version of the pasilla pepper and commonly used in Mole sauces.

I suggest wearing gloves during prep…or not…roll the dice you badass!

Prep Time: 10 minutes / Soak Time: 60 Minutes

4 large dried chiles (Ancho, Guajillo, Chile Negro, or other)

1 clove garlic

1 Tbsp kosher salt

2 Tbs apple cider vinegar

About 2 cups of boiling water

Rinse to clean the whole dried chile. Placing them on a paper towel mat as a workspace. Pull the hard, top stem off – if it doesn’t have a stem, it will still have a pretty hard mass at the top, take that off. Pull open the chile and strip out the seed and veins. Put the cleaned chiles in a glass or stainless-steel bowl.

Cover the chiles with about 2 cups of boiling water and let soak for at least 1 hour.

After soaking, carefully pour the rehydrated chiles along with the soaking liquid into a food processor or high-speed blender. Peel and crush your garlic clove and add that to the blender along with the salt and cider vinegar. Blend well.

Use in a recipe immediately or refrigerate. Will keep tightly sealed in the fridge for about a month.

If you’d like to use this as a traditional salsa or to add a deep, rich, warm flavor to a fresh dish, you should simmer to reduce by 1/3 to 1/2 – otherwise it can taste pretty bitter and raw. In a small sauce pan bring the chile sauce to a boil and then simmer on low, uncovered, for at least 20 minutes or until you reach your desired consistency.

Enjoy!

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