Monday, May 4, 2009

Red Chile Sauce

Adding tomato to red chile sauce is a bit controversial here in NM. We use Rick Bayless' recipe for our red chile sauce (with tomato) which is part of the recipe found HERE. We occasionally make red chile sauce more quickly using Chimayo chile powder or the Bueno frozen red chile purees but this sauce is quite possibly one of the top ten best things I've ever tasted. And that is really saying something because I'm very much a green chile person.

Whole dried red chiles are available in big bags anywhere in NM in supermarket produce sections. These are guajillos and occasionally we do add one or two dried chipotles or anchos for an even more complex sauce.

The dried chiles need to be toasted in a cast iron pan. It only takes a few minutes but will perfume your whole house with the most wonderful spicy almost chocolate-like aroma. After the chiles are toasted they need to be submerged in hot water with a weight on top.

After the chiles have soaked, they are pureed with garlic and canned tomatoes. Virtually everything plastic that comes into contact with this mixture will become stained. I have an entire collection of chile-stained spatulas.

Next comes the hard part. The puree needs to be strained to get rid of all the chile skins. I've occasionally seen recipes that do not strain out the seeds and pieces of chile skins but it is impossible to puree this enough to make a smooth sauce otherwise.

The strained puree goes back to a pan with some oil and is cooked down to the consistency of tomato paste. Then it is cooked for a long time with some veg. broth until the desired consistency. A bit of sweetener improves the chile flavor quite a bit.

Tomorrow for Cinco de Mayo I'll post my tamale recipe using fresh masa dough. I like to serve tamales with red chile sauce on special occasions. Once I even made tamales for Thanksgiving.

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