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Email Eric 

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Enchiladas seem to taste better when the corn tortillas are dipped in sauce, and here's my favorite recipe for Red Chile Enchilada Sauce.  My sauce is very easy to make and will add zest and Mexican character to your homemade enchiladas.

Special tool:  Cast iron skillet, blender, microwave oven
Preparation time:  About 15 minutes
Cooking time:  About 2 or 3 minutes in microwave and about 10 minutes on range
Yield:  About 16 oz, enough for 12 to 18 enchiladas if used as a sauce

3 dried California chili peppers, diced, seeded, stemmed, with veins removed
3 dried New Mexico chili peppers, diced, seeded, stemmed, with veins removed
2 cups Chicken or Turkey Stock, preferably homemade
3 medium Roma tomatoes, quartered
1-1/2 teaspoons dry oregano, preferably Mexican
4 cloves fresh garlic, diced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt to taste, about 1/8 teaspoon, I prefer kosher
Dried, chipotle peppers, optional; see text

Remove seeds, stems and veins from dried chili peppers.  Put peppers, tomatoes and garlic in chicken stock, heat in microwave on high heat, about 2 or 3 minutes, and allow to soak for 10 minutes to soften peppers.

When peppers are soft, whirl chicken stock and vegetable mixture in blender until pureed.  

Place mixture in cast iron skillet, and add remaining ingredients.  Over medium heat cook about 10 minutes, until mixture slightly thickens, stirring as needed to prevent sticking.

Use as dipping sauce for tortillas.  Any extra can be used to spoon over enchiladas when you bake them.

It isn't possible to say exactly how many dried chili peppers to use, as everyone has a different taste and reaction to the spices found in the peppers.  Also, the "heat" in peppers varies from batch to batch. There is nothing critical about making the sauce, so I just use what I have on hand.  

Left:  Tomato slices, chilies peppers and garlic are cooling in homemade chicken stock, and are getting ready for the blender.  Right:  Red chilie sauce cooking in a cast iron skillet.

This sauce is very easy to make, and it is, in my opinion, the most important ingredient in the enchilada, as it adds flavor and moisture, and gives the corn tortilla a pleasant, dusty red appearance.

I like to add a couple of chipotle peppers into the mix, for the "heat" and the smoky flavor.  Whole, dried chipotle peppers are difficult, if not impossible, to find in the U.S., but they're readily available in Mexico.  Since I'm a fan of Mexico and visit the country whenever possible, when I'm in the country I usually stop by a mercado and pick up a couple of kilos of them to bring home with me. They will keep indefinitely in the freezer, if stored in a zip-lock freezer bag.  So if you visit Mexico, I'd recommend that you bring some home with you.  You won't have any trouble getting them through U.S. customs.


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