Ooh Chihuahua! (Homemade Enchilada Sauce.)

Enchilada sauce is one of those things I love, Love, LOVE, but don’t make often enough (or enough of it when I do), but I’m determined not to buy any more. It is so good (much better than store-bought in my opinion), and easy to make.  I looked in Nourishing Traditions for Sally’s recipe, but sort of combined it with what I’ve done in the past, which I learned from a Mexican family that has a huge tamale-making party every year. I use bone broth in the sauce, so this is another opportunity to use some of that wonderful broth in your freezer that you keep trying to get into your family during cold season!

My sauce is definitely on the mild side because that’s how we like it, but you can make it hotter by not using all of the water or broth when you blend/mill it. Likewise, you could make it even milder by adding more broth at the end. You could also experiment on which chiles you like best.  I used Chile California Entero for this batch.  I always try to find “less dry” chiles because they’re easier to work with (less crumbly).  Just give the bag a little squeeze and if there’s a little “give” to the chiles instead of totally crispy, choose that one.) I use my VitaMix to blend the sauce and I don’t have to strain it.  Most recipes say to use a food mill–this strains out the large pieces of skin.  Years ago, I tried a regular blender and was not happy with the sauce because there were little hard pieces of skin in it.  Not a good mouth feel.  So if you have a VitaMix, use it.  Or put it through a food mill. Or I suppose you could blend it, then strain well?? Oh, and do as I say and not as I do: use gloves to handle the chiles! Your skin will thank you.

Homemade Enchilada Sauce

  • 3 oz. bag of dried chiles
  • 1/2 c. chopped onion
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 2-3 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2-3 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 quart hot tap water
  • 1 1/2 c. bone broth (I used chicken this time)

Use scissors to snip the tops off of all the chiles, then snip up the length of each chile and remove all the seeds and large rib stuff (not sure what to call that!). Put all the cleaned chiles in a pot with all the rest of the ingredients, except for the broth.  I save the broth for later, because if I need to adjust for spiciness I won’t be dumping that precious liquid down the drain!

Bring to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the chiles are tender (completely limp when picked up with a fork!). Let cool slightly so you won’t crack your blender. Okay, and less hellishly spicy steam going into your eyes!

Now for the blending/food milling part. For your first time, you may not want to use all the water before tasting for spice.  This time, I bit the bullet and dumped the whole shebang in the VitaMix, and it worked fine. But you can hold back a cup or two of the liquid then add it later if you want, depending on your taste. Add the bone broth (or most of it, and adjust later as you did with the chile-water) and blend the heck out of it!  (Or pass the whole thing through a food mill.)  Now taste, adjusting your liquids as needed, and add more salt and/or oregano if you want.  Your sauce should be smooth, thicker than water but not gravy-thick. I divide it into zip bags and freeze for later.

When you’re ready to use some, thaw completely.  For enchiladas, I usually thicken it a little with a roux (which is what I do for store-bought sauce too). Melt some good fat (beef tallow, lard, butter…) in a skillet, add same amount of flour and whisk for maybe 30 seconds, then pour your sauce in and whisk til slightly thickened.  Amounts of each? Your ratios will be about 1:1 on the fat:flour, so for each cup of liquid you would use about 1 Tbls. each of fat and flour. Or in Grandma’s words, “1+1+1” instead of the “2+2+1” for a thicker gravy.  If this confuses you, ask me in the comments and I’ll clear it up for you 😉 .

I use this sauce for enchiladas obviously, but also in various casseroles (tamale pie, anyone?), tamales (add the sauce to your meat to fill your tamale), or for dipping tortilla chips. Mmm. This sauce makes me very happy.

Sorry, no photo of the finished product.  I bagged and froze it without thinking of the camera!  It just looks like enchilada sauce anyway.

This was a part of the Real Food Wednesdays carnival.

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4 responses to “Ooh Chihuahua! (Homemade Enchilada Sauce.)

  1. Mandi(Niece) :)

    Wow! It makes me want enchiladas! , 🙂

  2. I’ve actually been wondering about homemade enchilada sauce…I don’t have a good food mill or vita mix so I’m afraid I won’t get the chilis blended nicely. (I just have a 1-speed blender – don’t like it) and a teeny tiny food processor; it probably would only blend a half cup (or less) at a time. I never expected to see oregano in the ingredients. hmmmm. I also never thought of thickening that stupid runny sauce (hee hee).

  3. Funkinutt McFly

    I was wondering what to do with these dried chilies I just bought. Thanks for your tips. I’m vegan, so will skip the bone broth. I so wish I had a vitamix. Why not leave the seeds in if I want it spicier? Will the vitamix not purée the seeds?

  4. Thanks for the comment. You could leave seeds in for more heat; my family just doesn’t like too much heat. The Vitamix would definitely puree the seeds (if I wanted it to).

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