Red Chile Sauce of Love

(reposted from a facebook note)

Laura asked for our Red Chile Enchilada recipe, so here goes!

Red Chile Sauce

First you have to start with the right sauce. Where I grew up (in Northern New Mexico), you won’t find things like tomatoes or onions in the best enchilada sauces — mostly you will find red chile.

You should start by getting out a blender and adding:

  • 3 tbsp of Red Chile powder (preferably Chimayo Red Chile powder)
    This red Chile powder is pure red chiles ground up, no other additives. Chimayo red chile, from the small town of Chimayo in Northern New Mexico, has an incredible earthiness under the pungency of the chile. Aficionados regard it as the best red chile to be had, ever, anywhere. If the chile is very mild, 4 tbsp may be used.
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • half blender (2 cups) of water
  • 1 clove garlic (we usually use the pre-minced stuff from a jar)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pinch oregano, crushed up, preferable Mexican, but that isn’t super important.

Blend briefly, then add another 2 cups water and blend briefly again. Put in a saucepan and bring to a slow simmer, and cook, gently stirring from time to time with a flat-ended spoon, to keep the chiles from sticking to the bottom and to keep a skin off the top, until the sauce thickens. This usually takes 10 to 20 minutes.

Congratulations, now you have an excellent red chile sauce. It is great as an enchilada sauce, or on huevos rancheros, or as a marinade for carne adovada.

[[ Note: For the curious, Chimayo Red Chile powder can be mail ordered, from many places, including this source ]]

Red Chile Enchiladas

In Northern New Mexico, enchiladas are not rolled, they are flat. They can be prepared on individual plates, or as a casserole. I will be describing the latter. You will need corn tortillas and shredded cheese and your sauce, also a baking dish (we use a pyrex one) and preheat the oven to 350F.

- 12 Blue corn tortillas. Blue corn tortillas are the go-to tortilla for red chile enchiladas in northern New Mexico, but you probably won’t find them much outside of New Mexico, so use regular corn tortillas.
- 12 ounces shredded Mexican cheese blend (make your own, half cheddar, half jack, as a good approximation)

The tortillas need to be softened up in some oil, so get out a small frypan and put about 1/2 cup of oil into the pan. Heat the oil up over medium high heat. While it is heating, get out a plate and put a couple of paper towels on it. Using tongs, dip the corn tortilla into the oil for 3 to 5 seconds, then turn over and get the other side of the tortilla in the oil for 3 to 5 seconds. Set the tortilla on the paper towels to help rid the excess oil. After 2-3 tortillas are on the plate, add another layer of paper towels and repeat until all the tortillas are softened. Once the oil is off the heat, it is time to assemble the casserole.

To make cleanup easier, spray some nonstick spray (like pam) into the baking pan. Spoon a thin layer of sauce onto the bottom of the pan and then add 3 tortillas in an even layer on the bottom of the pan, somewhat overlapping. This tells you how big your pan should be. Sprinkle a quarter of the cheese over the layer, and then add sauce until the cheese is well saturated with sauce. Add another layer of 3 the same way. On the last layer, add the sauce before the cheese, so the cheese layer is on the top. You will probably have some leftover sauce — it is great on your eggs at breakfast!

Bake until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese is slightly browned. About 20 to 25 minutes.

While it is baking, cut some lettuce up into fine strips (2-3 leaves per person) and dice some tomatoes (probably 1/2 tomato per person) to serve on the side (but serve whatever amount suits your tastes!)

When done, let sit and cool for 5-10 minutes, and then serve with the lettuce and tomato as garnish. Add sour cream as desired.

You may even choose a common (and delicious) Northern New Mexican option, and serve the enchilada with a fried egg on top of each serving for those who desire it.

At our house, this makes about 5 servings. Black beans or Pinto bean make a nice side dish, but are completely optional.

Enjoy!

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