Tag Archives: condiments

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.


Hot Tamale! (Fermented Sriracha-style Hot Sauce)

When I was writing the post on my traditional nutrition journey, I mentioned one of my “holdouts” was Sriracha hot sauce.  Well, I realized that I hadn’t even made an attempt to replace this chemical-laden product!  So, after perusing the net for replacement recipes, I decided to wing it (which is what normally happens for me–I rarely follow a recipe exactly anyway).  I knew that I wanted my sauce to taste similar to the store-bought version, nice and hot, garlicky and slightly sweet. I’m always looking for more opportunities to serve fermented foods to my family, so I knew that this would need to be lacto-fermented as well. This is what I came up with, for round one anyway. If it needs tweaking, I’ll let you know.

What I wanted were Thai chiles, but I couldn’t find them.  In fact there weren’t even any red chiles of any kind in one store I went to!  (Hello, do chiles even grow in January?) However, I went to another store and found red Fresno chiles. I had no idea how hot they were, so I asked one of the produce employees.  He said they were about the same heat as a jalepeño, but when we both took a bite of one it wasn’t hot at all!  I was debating on whether just to buy them anyway, and supplement the heat with some Habaneros (which I did end up doing but didn’t use them), when he bit into another one.  After this bite, he let me know, with expletive-ridden language, that THAT one was HOT!!!  (“Yay for me!” she exclaims, scared AND excited!)

Fermented Sriracha-style Hot Sauce

Please ignore the tomato sauce, vinegar and habanero! I didn't need them after all!

  • 16 Red Fresno chiles
  • 1 Large shallot
  • 4 Garlic cloves
  • 2 Tbls. Sucanat
  • 2 tsp. Sea salt
  • 1 Tbls. Fish sauce
  • 1/4 c. + 1 Tbls. whey, divided

First, put gloves on!  You definitely don’t want this stuff getting into your eyes, or onto your baby’s skin!  Remove stems, seeds and ribs from the chiles. I gave them a good rinse to make sure I had all the seeds off.  Give them a very rough chop (maybe into 2-3 pieces?), then put in food processor with all the remaining ingredients EXCEPT the last tablespoon of whey.  Whiz this for several minutes or until smooth, stopping occasionally to scrape sides. When I make this again, I will probably use my VitaMix to get it even smoother. Taste for seasoning.

Pour into jar, top with remaining whey and seal tightly. Make sure you leave at least an inch of space at the top, or you may have leak issues (which I probably will have, because I didn’t follow my own instruction!)

Let it sit on the counter for 2-3 days, then refrigerate.

If you’re interested in how this turns out, follow the comments.  I’ll report back.  At this point, it tastes pretty close to the “real” thing.  Also, I will probably use maple syrup instead of Sucanat, but I didn’t have any this time.

This post is a part of Fight Back Friday!

Grocery Budget. It’s all about priorities. (Homemade Ketchup)

This is a somewhat rambling post, but some days my brain just rambles more than other days!

Considering the SAD (Standard American Diet), we eat pretty well.  I cook almost everything from scratch, partly to avoid nasty additives like high fructose corn syrup and MSG and partly because it tastes better.  It’s also cheaper.  I don’t agree that it’s impossible to eat good quality food on a strict budget.  I spend about $200 a month on our food for the three of us.  The trick is that you just can’t buy junk too.  If you’re buying fast food, junk food and packaged foods, and also healthy food, you’re going to spend more. Obviously.

I think a lot about food and my food budget.  I think the food thing comes from my maternal grandmother because she did the same thing, and the budget thing comes from the fact that I want to be able to afford the food thing.  If you’re trying to eat Tradition Nutrition style, sometimes you have to prioritize your food purchases to provide the most nourishment for your buck.

So, regarding organic food:  We do eat as much organics as possible (but not as much as I’d like).  I read somewhere that the pesticide load increases as you go up the food chain.  Picture a field of wheat that has been sprayed.  Yes, there are pesticides in that wheat that you make into bread.  However, put a cow into that field. The cow eats the wheat.  She will retain pesticides she ate and they will accumulate, mostly in her fat.  Then her secondary product (her milk) will have even a higher load.  If this is true, then it would make sense that the biggest bang for your organic buck would be to buy organic milk, butter and cheese, right?  (For you NT foodies, I know I haven’t even gone into the whole grass-fed/pastured issue.  Saving that for another post.)

With this concept in mind, I go ahead and buy conventional produce, mostly through our co-op.  I buy as good quality dairy products as possible, though I can’t usually afford organic unless it’s on sale.  My compromise here is to buy dairy from Safeway because they don’t use growth hormones and very little antibiotics on their cows.  Hopefully soon I will find a local source for all my dairy, beef & chicken (with no pesticides, grass-fed, pastured).  I already buy eggs from a local source which I consider to be our single most nutritious food in our diet.  We eat a lot of eggs.  The eggs come from happy, bug-eating chickens who are cared for by a loving family.  Not from a factory.  Did I say we eat a lot of eggs?!

My ketchup recipe has been adapted from Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions book.  I’ve made it three or four times now, and we all love it. Slightly sweet, slightly spicy.  Much better than store-bought.

Homemade Ketchup

  • 3 c. tomato paste
  • At least 1/4 c. whey
  • 1 Tbls. sea salt
  • 1/2 c. pure maple syrup (we use grade B, which is not only cheaper but also retains more nutrients than grade A)
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 3 cloves smashed garlic
  • 1/4 c.  chopped green chiles (from my freezer-we roasted & froze them last summer)
  • (Original recipe calls for 1/2 c. homemade fish sauce but I always happen to be out of this.  Or maybe I’ve been a little frightened by the thought.)

Mix all ingredients together.  Put in a clean quart jar.  I pour some more whey on top to retard any mold growth.  Cover tightly and let sit out on counter for about two days.  Refridgerate.  Yes, this is a ferment.  Extremely good for you!  Eat as often as possible.