There must be a hundred varieties, if not more on how to prepare chile sauce. When I am not in a hurry and want to prepare a sauce that will leave an impression, I like to use dried chile ancho as my main ingredient. Out of all of the dried peppers, I am most familiar with the chile ancho. My Mom would often use it for such recipes as Tamales, Chile Colorado, Menudo, Costillas de Puerco(ribs), Enchiladas and Pozole.
One of the most accurate descriptions for the flavor of the chile ancho is that it taste like a spicy raisin. On most days it’s pretty mild. Now and then, I will add some masa harina as a thickener for the chile sauce. It add a subtle flavor of corn and requires no extra butter or oil, just a little water or broth. If you have the time, I would suggest toasting your own cumin seeds. The flavor and aroma are incredible compared to already ground cumin. I have purchased an inexpensive coffee grinder just for spices and it works great, especially for when I make Molé with all it’s spices. Pick up these simple ingredients and prepare a batch of enchilada sauce for dinner or divide it into 2 cup portions for the freezer.
15 chile ancho
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 small white onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups of stock ( I used a homemade chicken stock)
2 teaspoons toasted, crushed cumin seeds or you can use already ground cumin
2 teaspoons Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
Salt to taste
*1/4 cup masa harina mixed with 1/2 cup of water until smooth, optional
1. Fill a large pot with about 7 cups of water and heat to medium. Remove the stems and seeds from the chile ancho and transfer them into pot of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium/low and let the peppers slowly reconstitute. Stir now and then to turn peppers over. They will start to turn a brighter shade of red. Remove from heat and drain all of the water.
2. Transfer the peppers to the blender. Add 3 cups of fresh water and blend on high until smooth. Using a wire mesh strainer, strain the sauce into a larger bowl. Use the back of a wooden spoon or spatula to push all the pulp through. You should end up with about 4 cups. Add in all the dry spices and salt to taste.
3. In a large pot, preheat 4 tablespoons of olive oil to medium heat for a few minutes. Add the onions and garlic and cook for 5 to 7 minutes. Pour in the strained sauce and 3 cups of stock .Bring to a boil, reduce heat and continue cooking for 25 minutes. Adjust the seasoning as it cooks to your liking. While at a simmer, whisk in the masa harina slurry. This will thicken the sauce and add a subtle corn flavor. Cook for another 10 minutes. Yields up to 7 cups.
Tips~ If you want a completly smooth sauce, you could add the onion and garlic to the chiles when you blend them. Many people do it this way, but I like the flavor of the sauteed onions and garlic in my sauce.
Tips~ Not only is this sauce great for enchiladas, but is also great for tamales, ribs, burritos, taco meat, soups and stews. It is freezer friendly and gluten free.
You can prepare chile sauce with all one pepper or mix the chile ancho with Guajillo, New Mexico or Chile California. If you like it a little more spicy, you could add some chile de arbol, japones or piquin. Bottom right of the photo are the beans mixed with chile ancho sauce all ready for tamales! They are great as refried beans too!