Authentic Red Chile Sauce made entirely from scratch — this classic Mexican enchilada sauce is luxuriously rich, you can’t get anything like this out of a can!
Red Chile Sauce is the life-blood of Southwestern cooking
You can’t really pretend to know the cuisine until you’ve made this staple garlic and chile 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.
ingredient list for red chile sauce
- New Mexico or California red chile pods
- white pepper
- olive oil
This recipe calls for New Mexican or California dried chilies
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 red chili 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.
Your homemade chile sauce will keep up to 10 days in the refrigerator, and you can freeze it for longer storage. Let it cool completely, then pack in freezer safe jars or containers, making sure to leave a little headspace to allow for expansion during freezing.
Red Chile Sauce
- 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.