The Red Sauce

I use several kinds of chile sauces when I'm cooking Mexican food - green, yellow, white, creamy, but probably the most used in my kitchen is the red sauce.

I made a red enchilada sauce a few weeks ago with New Mexico red dried peppers that Rich, my husband, bought from a street vendor in Tucson. One day, we were going to have a potluck at work and somebody volunteered me to bring the salsa, but I forgot to make it. On the day of the potluck, I got up early in the morning and remembered that I was supposed to bring the salsa. I looked into my refrigerator and saw a jar halfway full with enchilada sauce but no hot salsa. I grabbed the enchilada sauce, a couple of jalapeño peppers, one tomato and some leftover cilantro. I blended it all together, placed it in a jar and took off for work with my improvised salsa, hoping that people would like it even a little. To my surprise, everyone loved it, including myself!

Here is the recipe for my original enchilada sauce and a tip on how to turn extra enchilada sauce into a great hot salsa (when one forgets to make one from scratch).

Enchilada Sauce with Sunflower Seeds

10 New Mexico dried red peppers
1 T pepper seeds
2 T sunflower seeds
1 T dried oregano
3 garlic cloves
1/2 medium onion
salt to taste

Clean and divein the peppers scraping the seeds. Save 1 Table spoon of seeds and discard the rest. Toast pepper seeds and sunflower seeds in a dry cast iron pan until they become aromatic. Remove from the pan. Next toast the oregano until it becomes aromatic, it will only take seconds. Grind all three ingredients in a molcajete (mortar and pestle). Briefly toast the peppers being careful not to burn them. Place the peppers in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Soak for 15 minutes until they rehydrate and become very soft. In the same pan, roast the onion (peeled) and garlic (with paper on) until they become tender. Peel the garlic, drain the peppers saving about 1/2 cup of the soaking water and transfer all ingredients into a blender or food processor; purée until smooth. Pass the sauce through a semi fine strainer, discard the solids left on the strainer and store the sauce in a jar in the refrigerator until ready to use.

This sauce is not spicy as New Mexico peppers are not too hot but if you like it milder, you can roast one tomato and add it to the blender before puréeing.

I use this sauce for enchiladas but when I have a little extra, I boil one tomato with one or two jalapeño peppers. Place them in a blender with the extra sauce and a handful of cilantro, purée and turn it into a hot salsa.


Anonymous said...

Aunt Martha,

I'm so glad to have your enchilada sauce recipe. I started making enchiladas just this past year and I came up with my own sauce. It's tomato and garlic cooked down together with all this spice mixture(which I make myself), cumin, coriander, small red chillies, dried smoked jalepenos, oregano and ceylon cinnamon and salt and pepper to taste. It is good but I'd take any comments or suggestions to improve. Kara. P.S. I love your sight!

Prieta said...

Hi Kara,
Your sauce sounds delicious, I'll have to try it next time I make enchiladas. I'm glad you are using oregano and the flavor of cinnamon sounds interesting, this can even be a mole sauce.