There must be a hundred varieties, if not more on how to prepare chile sauce. My go to sauce is this chile ancho 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.
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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.
Salsa de Chile Ancho (Chile Ancho Sauce)
A simple and basic red chile sauce that is good for tamale making, salsa's, braising, tacos, burritos and enchiladas!
- 8 ounces of dried chile ancho 15-20 peppers
- Water to fill pot
- 5 cups chicken broth or water
- 1/2 tablespoon Mexican oregano
- 1/2 tablespoon of cumin
- 4 large cloves of garlic or 1 TBS garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
- 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
- Salt to taste
- 1 TBS chicken base or bouillon
- 4 TBS pork lard(manteca) or grapeseed oil
- 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 let cool for 20 minutes before draining all the water.
- Transfer the peppers to the blender. Add 5 cups of chicken broth or fresh water, oregano, cumin, garlic, pepper and salt to taste. 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. If using a power blender, there is no need to strain the sauce.
In a large pot, preheat 4 tablespoons of lard or oil to medium heat for a few minutes. Pour in the sauce from the blender. Mix in the chicken base or bouillon. Mix in the vinegar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and continue cooking for 20-25 minutes. Adjust the seasoning as it cooks to your liking. I added and extra 1/2 teaspoon (or to taste) of cumin, oregano, pepper and the salt to taste. If you prefer a thicker sauce, whisk in the masa harina slurry. This will thicken the sauce and add a subtle corn flavor. Cook for another 10 minutes.
This sauce can be prepared with a mix of dried chiles like guajillo, California, pasilla. If you want to add some heat, there is chile de arbol, morita, chipotle or pulla.
Many times when I prepare chile sauces, instead of salt, I use a chicken bouillon powder. It adds more flavor than just using salt. The brand I use is the Knorr brand.
After purchasing my power blender(vitamix), I have not had to strain any chile 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!
How To Prepare Red Chile Masa For Tamales Using This Chile Ancho Sauce!
Red Chile Masa For Tamales
1 1/2 cups natural rendered pork lard (Manteca)
5 cups masa harina
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
Kosher salt, to taste 1 cup chile sauce(see recipe above)
4-5 cups warm chicken or pork broth
In your stand mixer bowl, add the room temperature lard. With the paddle attachment, whip the lard, at medium speed, for 3 minutes. Reduce speed on mixer and gradually mix in all the masa harina. Mix in the baking powder, salt and chile sauce. With the mixer speed on low, stream in the warm chicken broth. Continue mixing for 5 minutes. Stop and taste for salt. Mix for one more minute. Transfer masa to a bowl or container with a tight lid. let sit for 30-40 minutes. Or store overnight in the refrigerator. When ready to use, pull masa from refrigerator and let it come to room temperature for one hour. If you like, you can you can fluff up the room temperature masa in the stand mixer for a few minutes. Yields up to 40 tamales.