Authentic Red Chile Sauce made entirely from scratch is a thing of beauty — you can’t get anything like this out of a can!
I’ve been cooking and sharing from Meagan Micozzi’s cookbook The New Southwest for a couple of weeks now, and today marks my last post in the series. Sad, I know, but when you get to the bottom of the post you can enter to win a free copy of the book and continue exploring it on your own. For this last recipe I chose something I’ve wanted to tackle for a while now, and thankfully Meagan’s book gave me the perfect excuse. Red Chile Sauce is the very life-blood of Southwestern cooking; you can’t really pretend to know the cuisine until you’ve made this staple sauce from scratch. The process that transforms dry leathery peppers into a smooth rich sauce is multi-stepped, but simple, and so satisfying.
In the end you’re left with an authentic sauce that is itself the starting point for an endless list of traditional dishes, like enchiladas, tamales, chili, huevos rancheros… I’m looking forward to having a few jars in the freezer this winter.
Meagan calls for New Mexican or California dried chilies in the recipe. If you can’t find them in your grocery store, be sure to ask, they often stash them in out of the way spots. You can always buy them online, too. They keep forever, so I suggest stocking up for future sauce making. I used the California chiles, which are a little less hot than the New Mexico variety. My sauce had a perfect hint of heat, not overwhelming at all.
The additional flavors in this sauce, like the recipe itself, are simple. Roasted garlic, a few classic Southwestern herbs like cumin, coriander and oregano, and some salt. I added my own kick with a touch of sherry vinegar at the very end to satisfy my taste for a little tang in my sauce. I think it brought it to life.
I’ve really enjoyed cooking from The New Southwest these past few weeks. In this vibrant collection of recipes Meagan celebrates the culinary melting pot of “Native American, Mexican, Tex-Mex, and classic Americana”, a cuisine which she says is one of the most varied and inclusive she’s ever known. She takes it on from the fresh perspective of an outsider, and, while respecting it, gives it playful nudges with recipes like Peanut Butter and Jelly Empanadas, Coffee Rubbed Lamb Chops, and Caramel Soaked Mexican Pancakes. But there are plenty of classics in the collection, too, like my chile sauce, so you definitely get a dose of tradition along with the playfulness.
I think one of the qualities that sets The New Southwest apart is that it’s approachable on so many levels, from the recipes, to the photos, and even Meagan’s cheerful writing style. I don’t feel like I’m being ‘taught’, as much as I’m being included in an exciting journey. None of the recipes are complex, and for me that is key. When I leaf through a cookbook with elaborate recipes, no matter how fabulous they look, my eyes glaze over…this one makes me want to dive right in. I highly recommend the book, I’ll bet you don’t have anything like it on your shelf!
Red Chile Sauce
- 10 cloves of garlic
- 6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil divided
- 8 ounces dried New Mexico or California red chile pods stemmed and seeded
- 5 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground oregano preferably Mexican
- 1 tsp ground white pepper
- Set the oven to 350F
- Peel and toss the garlic cloves with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and a sprinkling of salt. Wrap them in foil and roast for 30 minutes. The cloves will be softened and fragrant. Place the cloves in the bowl of a food processor, fitted with the blade attachment,
- Put the chile pods in a large heavy bottomed stockpot. Heat the pot over a medium flame and stir the chiles until they start to toast and release their aroma. This will take about 2-4 minutes, but watch carefully, they burn easily. Stir continuously.
- Fill the pot with water, and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally so all the chiles get submerged, and cook for about 15-20 minutes. Remove the chilies, but reserve 5 cups of the cooking water.
- Working in 2 batches, puree the chiles along with the garlic cloves. Run the machine until the chiles are ground down to a smooth, thick paste, and stop to scrape down the sides of the machine if necessary. Process in the reserved liquid and run until smooth. Again, you will need to do this in batches so your machine doesn't overflow.
- Strain the sauce through mesh sieve into a clean bowl. Be sure to push the sauce through with the back of a spoon to get all the liquid through. Discard the solids.
- Set the same pan over medium heat add 5 tablespoons of oil, and then add the flour, stirring until it forms a paste. Add in the spices, and stir continuously until smooth.
- Whisk in the chile mixture, and bring to a boil. Cook for about 5 minutes until the sauce is thickened and coats the back of a spoon.
- Cool the sauce and then store in tightly closed containers in the refrigerator.
notes and variations
Now for some fun news — I’m excited to tell you that Hippocrene Books is giving away free copies to 14 lucky readers! Just leave a comment at the end of this post, and follow the instructions below for more ways to enter. Are you feeling lucky? I hope so!
NOTE: THIS GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED
Enter to win a copy of The New Southwest!
Hippocrene will be supplying 14 copies of The New Southwest by Meagan Micozzi for this giveaway, in conjunction with The New Southwest Cookbook Spotlight. Contest is open to anybody with a shipping address in the USA. Submissions will be accepted via the rafflecopter widget through 11:59 pm ET on Sunday, November 3, 2013. Fourteen winners will be chosen by random draw, verified, and be notified by email (from Heather at girlichef) within 48 hours of the close of this contest. The winner should respond within 24 hours of notification, or a new winner will be drawn in their place. Good Luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
I was sent a free copy of The New Southwest, but all opinions are my own.