From Scratch: Red Enchilada Sauce

Red Enchilada Sauce

My husband and I wanted to make Baked Chile Rellenos the other night but discovered we were out of enchilada sauce. We stopped at the store, but nothing good was to be found, since we refused to pay exorbitant amounts for not-so-great cans.

I got down an old mexican cookbook I found at the thrift store and flipped through it. Sure enough, there was a recipe for enchilada sauce. (So far, I've only found one ingredient she calls for canned: tomatillos. I believe it's because fresh were completely unavailable at the time of writing fifty years ago.)

Luckily, we had everything called for so we set out to make our own enchilada sauce for the first time.

The verdict? Quick, easy and very tasty. Beats the hell out of the canned stuff, but it's not as thin either. I'm not sure what I think of the eggs/dairy portion and it cooks down to more brown than red, but it tastes damn good.

Red Enchilada Sauce [printable recipe]

Adapted from The Complete Book of Mexican Cooking by Elizabeth Lambert Ortiz
Yields approximately 6 cups

  • 6 ancho chiles (large, dark red, dried chiles)
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 lb peeled, chopped and seeded tomatoes OR 1 15oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp dried epazote or 1 sprig, fresh (optional)
  • salt, pepper
  • sugar (to taste)
  • 1 cup cream or chicken broth
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tbsp lard or oil

Prepare the chiles by removing the stem and seeds before tearing into pieces. Place in a small bowl and cover with hot water. Let rest for 1 hour.

Blend chiles, the soaking water, tomatoes, onion, garlic and epazote (if using) to a smooth puree. Heat lard in a medium saucepot over moderate heat and add the puree. Cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper and sugar, stir in the eggs and cream/broth then remove from heat.