Monday, July 4, 2011

New Mexican Red Chile Sauce

I'm continuing my exploration of New Mexican cuisine.  Last night I started things off with the simplest of all building blocks - Roasted Anaheim Chiles.  Tonight, I'm making one of two iconic sauces that grace everything from enchiladas to chilaquiles to huevos rancheros.  You'll get the other sauce (green) tomorrow, but tonight I had to go with the red sauce, in honor of the 4th of July. 

  • 1/2 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup New Mexico chile powder*
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 and 3/4 cups vegetable broth
1. Heat the canola oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and saute for 4 minutes.  Add the chile powder and garlic; saute for 1 minute.

2. Stir in the canned tomatoes, agave, cumin, black pepper, and vegetable broth.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

This recipe makes enough for 3 cups, but I actually made 2 batches today, in anticipation of upcoming recipes.  For something simple, try the sauce over vegetables or vegan meats.  I had it tonight with sauteed zucchini, yellow bell pepper and Match chicken. Another fun option would be the chorizo from Yves Veggie, since chorizo is a common item in New Mexican cuisine.  The sauce is equally delicious drizzled over flour or corn tortillas with your favorite fillings.  

*The key to this sauce is the New Mexico chile powder - don't be tempted to use regular chili powder in its place.  If you can't find it, a better substitute would be 7 parts sweet paprika mixed with 1 part ground red pepper.  However, I found New Mexico chile powder with ease at Whole Foods, or you can order it online at 

Nutrition Info:
12 servings (1/4 cup), Calories 43 

Tasting Notes:
The sauce had a wonderful smokiness to it, and the sweet tinge from the agave nectar was a definite plus.  The heat was perfect - warm and toasty, rather than blazing hot.  It does have a slightly grainy texture, no doubt from the half cup of chile powder called for.  Since I've never tried New Mexican red sauce before, I'm not sure if this is always the case, or something to be improved upon - I might consider giving the mixture a whirl in the blender next time, to cut down on the graininess.


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