Don't ask me why, but yesterday I got a craving for New Mexican Red Chile Sauce.
Mind you, this is NOT the same thing as those little cans of Enchilada Sauce you see in the stores. Not even close. Red Chile Sauce is made from New Mexican Red Chiles, and it's earthy, pungent flavor is so unique - it's really hard to explain to people who have never visited the Southwest.
Other than it's AMAZINGLY good!
I'm serious, in New Mexico? It's like ketchup. It goes on EVERYTHING. You may be thinking Mexican foods - Tacos, Burritos, Enchiladas......well sure.... but....
What about a plain baked potato? Yummy!
A bowl of rice or beans? You bet!
Tofu Scrambles? Oh yeah!
Black Bean Veggie Burgers? Oh my gosh...stop!
You get the picture. Anything! And the best part?
It's 100% fat-free, low in calories, and full of vitamins and nutrients.
And did I mention it's easy to make? Yes, even way up here in Portland, Oregon. You just have to know how. And this morning, I am going to teach you 🙂
Super easy and with minimal mess. One cookie sheet for baking. One pasta pot for boiling. And a blender.
Let's get started!
Easy New Mexican Red Chile Sauce
Step 1: First step, we're going to need some Chiles.
Look in your grocery store's Mexican food section, where they sell the Pace picante sauce, Taco shells, etc. They should have a little section of dried spices, usually with corn husks for tamales, etc. Look for a big bag of dried New Mexican Red Chile Pods. I know they're out there as my Walmart here in Portland carries them.
We're going to need about 20 pods for this recipe so make sure you get the right size bag. And we want the pods - not the powder.
You may see bags labeled California Chile Pods. I personally have never tried them and only use New Mexican Chiles. Although both states grow chiles - the growing conditions around Hatch, NM are such that the chile has a very distinct flavor.
Kind of like buying a store bough tomato compared to one you just picked off a vine.
Sorry California, no offense intended.
Step 2: Roasting
Pick out about 20 of the best looking pods and arrange them on a cookie sheet. We're going to roast them in a 250 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Just enough to bring out the flavor - but not burn them.
Once they're done roasting, let them cool to touch and begin to de-stem and de-seed the chiles. I use kitchen shears to snip off the stem end and dump out all the seeds.
Note: The seeds and membranes inside chile pods (even dried) contain an oil called Capsicum. It is very irritating to some, especially if you rub your eyes, nose, or other sensitive body parts. Wear gloves if you need to - just be careful.
Step 4: Rehydrating the Chiles
Once all your chiles are cleaned, add them to a large pasta pot with enough cold water to cover them and bring to a boil. Once it comes to a simmer, cover and turn off the heat to steam for about 10 minutes.
The chiles will become puffed up and very soft. Perfect.
Step 5: Draining the Chiles
Use tongs (or a slotted spoon) to remove the softened chiles and place them in your blender, saving the water as we'll need about 2 cups to use for blending. Now some people don't like using the chile water as it can be a bit bitter. Easy - just use fresh water instead.
Step 6: Blending
To your blender full of chiles, add 2 cups of water (use the chile water or fresh), an 8oz can of Tomato Sauce, and ½ tsp each of garlic powder, onion powder, Mexican oregano, cumin, and ¼ tsp salt.
Also, add 2-3 cloves of fresh garlic and about ¼ of a white onion.
Now with your hand securely holding the top of the blender, blend on high until smooth.
Note: Hot chiles and water will create a lot of pressure inside your blender. Make sure you initially hold that lid on tightly, so we don't have any explosive accidents.
Note: Something else to note here....Red Chile stains. Clean up spills immediately and you'll be fine. Also - speaking from experience..... I really don't recommend wearing anything white.
Step 7: Straining (optional)
Taste and adjust seasoning accordingly.
Now at this point, some people like to strain their finished Red Chile Sauce through a sieve to make it even smoother. This removes any small pieces of chile skin or seeds.
I don't. It takes a lot more time, it's very messy, and I personally like it a little chunky. Besides, it tastes so good at this point I can't bear to throw any of it away!
Your choice but it does not strain easily. You'll have to use a rubber spatula and really work the sauce through the sieve.
Call me lazy, but I like it just as it is.
Step 8: Devour
The best step! Enjoy!
Potatoes, rice, beans, tacos, enchiladas, burritos, tofu scrambles, toast, biscuits, corn, vegetables.
Think of it like gravy - try it on everything!
New Mexico is truly an enchanting place. I lived in Albuquerque for almost 10 years and of all the things I miss...... the food is probably on top of the list, namely the Chiles.
Now you can have a little piece of New Mexico wherever you happen to live.
Easy New Mexican Red Chile Sauce
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: 3 cups 1x
- Category: Sauce
- Cuisine: Mexican
Forget those little cans of store bought enchilada sauce, this homemade New Mexican Red Chile Sauce is the perfect condiment for any of your Mexican meals.
- 20 New Mexico Red Chile Pods ((dried))
- ¼ med White Onion
- 2 cups Water
- 1 can Tomato Sauce ((8oz))
- 2-3 cloves Garlic
- ½ tsp Garlic Powder
- ½ tsp Onion Powder
- ½ tsp Mexican Oregano
- ½ tsp Cumin
- ¼ tsp Salt
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
- Arrange 20 chile pods on a cookie sheet and roast for 20 minutes
- Flip chiles halfway through roasting process
- After chiles have cooled to touch,remove stems and seeds
- Add chiles and onion to large pasta pot and cover with water
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes
- Strain the chiles if desired, or reserve 2 cups of water for blending
- Carefully remove chiles and onion from pot and add to blender
- Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth
- Calories: 56
Hi Chuck: I’m Mexican but have lived in California 58 years, But I am a wimp and prefer mild sauces. A California Chile that you see in markets is a chile that is milder than New Mexico chile. A super long time ago someone brought the New Mexico chile to Anaheim, California near Disneyland and they bred it to be less hot because we Californians in Anaheim like things mild. Thats why New Mexico chiles resemble California Chiles. Also California Chiles are sometimes called Anaheim Chiles.
Red peppers are mild, roast & great with eggs. The basic NM hatch DRIED chili sauce is awesome with tomato’s sauce and/or strained. It fridges fine for a few weeks & in tamales freezes for a year. If you strain & leave out the tomato sauce, add slow cooked pork shoulder for tamales, dilute for pazole or menudo, add corn tortillas for enchiladas. Make LOTS, freeze in medium packets - you’ll be glad you did! 🙂 Make sure to salt it! Bueno amigo!
I’ve been looking for something a little bit different, a red pepper sauce and I’m wondering what you would think of roasting red peppers and using them in exactly the same way that you made your recipe. Or maybe you have a red pepper recipe that of course is SOS free.
Love it. I would eat this on a bowl of gravel! I used Hatch, NM HOT chilies and it is so good.
I've been told (by Rachel cooks with love on youtube.com) that if you clean the chiles first. wipe with a wet paper towel to remove the dust on them (chile dust whatever) and remove the stems and the seeds (as they can be bitter) and don't over roast them as they are easily burnt. (burnt=bitter) your chile sauce should not be bitter. I have not tried this as of yet, but plan to. just thought someone else may appreciate these tips. Thanks for sharing you're recipe.
I only have regular Oregano. What can I add to make it Mexican Oregano? Making the sauce now. yum
Just use your regular Oregano.
This is a long overdue thank you! I have made this recipe numerous times for Christmas tamales. I put some in the tamales and some on the table to go over them when serving. I’ve now graduated to whipping some up every few months (it freezes great). Who ever said chiles and tomatoes don’t mix? They are even in the same family of plants (along with potatoes, just a special carb shout out to the haters)! I use (El Pato hot) tomato sauce and I think it really adds something to the taste and texture (sorry, not sorry, chile sauce gatekeepers) so thanks again for this recipe!
I totally agree with low fat. But I am partial to carbs. I grew up in Albuquerque NM. I do miss the food and have to go back every once in awhile to eat. I will try this recipe and get back to you.
Is this sauce supposed to be bitter? I found the New Mexico chilis and made it to the recipe...Maybe I'll have to add a little agave syrup...
This is real authentic sauce. I grew up with this!
Batch cooked, today, this red chili sauce, your cajun beans and a veggie soup. I found the Red chili sauce to be too bitter, even after draining. Ugh! However, I ended up drizzling some over the cajun beans. Even if I am combining too many continents, it was delish!!!!
I have been told (but have never done it) that if your strain the chile after you blend it, through a fine seive, it removes a lot more of the skins and seeds, which reduces the bittnerness. If you try it - let me know.
Can I substitute dried red Thai chilies for the dred New Mexico chilies?
I know it's a pet peeve for me to say it came out bitter, when I modified the recipe a little (I steamed the roasted chilis and onion instead of boiling, I used vegetable stock instead of water, and I only had regular oregano). Because that tasted bitter - I added 2 Tbsp maple syrup, 2 good squirts of lemon juice, and an additional 1 tsp of salt. I like how it turned out, though. I wanted something similar to the tamale sauce I sometimes get in Mexican restaurants, and it is.
I just made this and it tastes really good. Question for you though; I followed the steps as you listed in the blog and finished and now am looking at the recipe and note that it says to cook the onion with the chiles. I didn't do that so I put raw onion in the blender. Do you think that will be a problem?
My husband makes this. He makes big batches and uses some to make asado and the rest gets frozen. It’s so good but I can’t stand the little pieces of skin that get stuck on my gums. Next time I’m going to try to convince him to use cheese cloth to when he strains it. I’m not sure it will work, but it’s worth a try. We visit New Mexico a couple times a year and we always get a big bag of roasted dried Chile’s when they are available.