Friday, September 30, 2011

Red Chile Sauce

This time of year is Hatch chile season. Well, actually, we’re just a little past it, but I’m a bit late in getting this article online. Consider this my September article.

Hatch chiles are famous just about the world over for their unique piquant flavor and aroma. They are most used in their green form (see my entry on Green Chili Stew for an example) but if they are left on the plant they will mature into red chiles. These are usually hung in bunches called ristras (As in the picture above) and left to dry, the dried chiles then being ground as needed and used to season various dishes.

Finding fresh RED Hatch chiles is usually pretty rare unless one is in New Mexico, but I happened across some at Central Market the other day and I couldn’t resist picking up a pound and doing something with them.

I love the flavor of fresh chiles, so I decided I’d make a red chile sauce with these babies. Most red chile sauce recipes call for dried chiles, because as mentioned above that is usually the only way you can find them. To work with the fresh chiles, I sort of made a hybrid between the green chile and red chile recipies I had in my Whole Chile Pepper Cookbook.

Red Chile Sauce

1 lb Fresh Red Hatch Chiles, Roasted, Peeled and Chopped
1 Medium Onion
2 Cloves Garlic
2 Tablespoons Vegetable or Olive Oil
¼ Cup Flour
2 Tablespoons Paprika
1 Tablespoon Cumin
½ to 1 Cup Water

First, roast the chiles on your grill until they begin to blacken and blister, about five minutes a side.

Enjoy their fragrant aroma. Remove the chiles from the grill and place in a plastic bag for about 15 minutes. This will sweat them and make their skins much easier to remove.

Chop your onion and get it simmering in your oil. (Vegetable oil is traditional, but I use olive oil) while your chiles are sweating in the plastic bag. (You can also roast the chiles at an earlier time and store them in the fridge for a couple of days, or freeze them for longer).

Note how easily the chiles peel, once they have sweated in the bag. 

Peel the chiles and coarsely chop them. Set aside. When the onions have begun to brown, dice the garlic and add it to the onions. Next sift in the flour and stir.

Next, add the paprika and cumin and stir this in. Add the chopped red chiles and allow the mixture to simmer for a few minutes.

Then add the water and allow it to come to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes or so. Serve Immediately.

Here we've served the sauce over some homemade cheese enchiladas.  Mmm Mmm good.