Sure, you can use canned enchilada sauce, but with a recipe this simple, I doubt you’ll want to.
Begin by toasting dried guajillo or ancho chiles (you can also use just one type of chile) in a dry skillet. Guajillos are a bit spicier than anchos, so if you’re not a fan of too much heat, stick with anchos. Once the peppers release their aroma, the seeds and stems are torn away before the chiles soak in hot liquid to soften them up a bit.
The sauce is then pureed smooth. Onions, garlic, chopped tomatoes, and the rest of the spices complement the enchilada sauce’s already bold flavor.
Using Dried Chiles
- Taking the time to toast your dried chiles warms up their natural oils, which awakens their flavor. You don’t need to add any oil to the pan, just throw the chiles in and let them warm gradually.
- Don’t skip soaking the dried chiles. Soaking the chiles in hot liquid rehydrates the dried peppers to ensure they blend to a smooth texture later.
- Replace the ancho chiles with a spicier chile, such as guajillo (chiles de árbol). You can also combine anchos and guajillos to create your own unique sauce.
- If you want to add more heat to your enchilada sauce, add up to 1 teaspoon of your favorite cayenne pepper with the other dried spices.
Tips and Tricks
- When blending the enchilada sauce, scrape down the blender halfway through the blending process. This will kick up any rogue chunks of onion or pepper that may linger in the corners.
- If you find that the sauce is too chunky, add an additional 1/2 cup of liquid (stock or water) to the blender to thin it out.
- If your sauce is too thin, puree some crumbled corn tortilla in it.
- Love spice? Add as many canned chipotles as you feel like, along with some adobo sauce from the can.
Ways To Use Red Chile Sauce
- Red Chile Chicken Enchiladas
- Easy Enchiladas
- Texas Stacked Enchiladas With Corn and Black Beans
Toast the chiles:
Add the chiles to a dry 12-inch frying pan. Turn the stove to medium heat and gently toast the chiles, flipping halfway during toasting, 4 to 5 minutes. The exterior of the chiles will take on a dark color, and you’ll start to smell their aroma.
Once the chiles are toasted, remove them from the pan and allow them to cool for 10 minutes (or until cool enough to handle).
Stem, seed, and soak the chiles:
Once the chiles are cool, pull off their stems. After pulling the stems, you can easily tear them open. Shake out the seeds inside and pull the yellow (or white) membrane that lines the inside of the peppers.
Put the peppers in the jar of a 64-ounce blender and carefully pour the boiling water or stock over them. Allow the peppers to soak for 15 minutes.
Puree the sauce:
Check to see that the peppers have softened. Remove 1 cup of the soaking liquid and set aside.
Add the chopped tomatoes to the blender, along with the onions and garlic, salt, oregano, cumin, and (if using) ground cinnamon and cocoa powder. Blend on high speed until smooth, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides and blend once again at the same speed for another 30 seconds.
Taste the sauce; the heat level will depend on the chiles you used. If desired, add some chipotle peppers for more heat or flavor. If you’d like the sauce to be thinner, add as much of the reserved soaking liquid as needed.
Use or store:
Taste for seasoning and add more salt, if needed. The sauce is now ready to use.
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