Authentic Red Enchilada Sauce

We'll be hitting the road for home tomorrow morning and driving through Albuquerque. I am SO looking forward to having some New Mexico chile dish somewhere with my good friend and artist extraordinaire, David Lloyd Stewart! When I lived in New Mexico I became thoroughly enchanted with New Mexico chiles. They are unlike any other peppers with their rich, deep flavors. If you've ever had them I'm sure you can agree. They're magical! 

This recipe is pretty simple. But you MUST use dried chiles. If you can find New Mexico peppers, great, but it will work with any others, too. For this particular batch I used a combination of New Mexico Red and Poblano. The result was not quite as spicy and darker in color than the usual red enchilada sauce.

I must mention here that authentic enchilada sauce does NOT contain tomato sauce, tomato paste or any other form of tomato! It is also almost always made using dried chile peppers. Most people will char the outsides of the chile peppers prior to soaking, but I find that the flavor is just fine without this step.

  • 8-10 dried chile peppers of your choice (modified for your taste regarding the heat factor)
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 2 TBS cumin
  • 1 tsp Mexican oregano (find in Latin markets)
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 TBS coconut sugar or any minimally processed sweetener
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 TBS Bragg's Liquid Aminos

  1. Cut off the stems of each pepper with scissors and REMOVE ALL THE SEEDS. Unless, of course, you want super hot sauce! If you are working with very hot chiles, I recommend wearing gloves for this process.
  2. Place chiles in a pot and cover with water to soak.
  3. Let soak until soft (about an hour is good).
  4. Rinse well! The soak water will be very bitter. Traditional enchilada sauce sometimes retains some of this bitterness. Depends on the chiles you use.
  5. Place chiles into a food processor and pulse until smooth. 
  6. Sauté onion, garlic and spices in olive oil until onions are soft.
  7. Transfer the pepper puree into the pot and stir well. Let peppers cook with the other ingredients for about 15 minutes, on low heat.
  8. Next transfer everything into a blender and blend until smooth. Add a little water if necessary to thin to a medium sauce consistency. 
  9. Transfer back to the pan and simmer about one hour so that the flavors really meld and the rest of the ingredients cook thoroughly.

Makes about 4 cups. Enjoy!

Buenos caminos,

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