Ten-Minute Foolproof Red Chile Sauce and
Ten-Minute Enchiladas

A pair of 'ten-minute' recipes from my friend Sally. First up, her quick and easy Red Chile Sauce. Second up, individual enchiladas, layers of corn tortillas, meat and beans, cheese, tomatoes and cilantro, and naturally, a good spoonful or two of that Red Chile Sauce - plus an egg on top for good measure!

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Before a jaunt to Santa Fe last summer, the husband of a friend played friendmaker, “We know this woman from Santa Fe. You’d like her. Have lunch or something.” Inside I groaned, not at all interested. But what was the worst outcome beyond an awkward hour or two? (And besides, wouldn’t she be reluctant too? Maybe it wouldn’t happen.) Ha, what a lesson in taking small chances!

Sally Denton is an author with much-readable books (her latest book came out in paperback last month) and wide-ranging interests. We had breakfast in a funky spot, talking on and on over coffee and breakfast enchiladas. Turns out, we share a fascination with food!

When Sally shared her recipe for Red Chile Sauce, the recipe she’s been perfecting since moving to New Mexico two decades ago – and a packet of red chile powder, too – I knew to accept with enthusiasm!

And my oh my, this stuff is good. Day One, I made test enchiladas for lunch, then snacked on tortillas, cheese and red chile sauce before bed. Day Two, I made enchiladas for breakfast, for lunch, for supper – and another bedtime snack. Sally consoled, “Just remember that Red Chile Sauce is fat free, loaded with Vitamin C and antioxidants and stimulates your metabolism. And addictive.” Ha! I’d already figured out that last.

A month later, the Red Chile Sauce is still in the fridge (so it keeps well) and I've been using it almost like hot sauce at every meal except dessert.

WHERE TO BUY RED CHILE POWDER Regular readers, please know: I work really hard to use only widely available ingredients in Kitchen Parade recipes. But this Red Chile Sauce is so special, so easy, so – addictive! – I hope you’ll understand why I’ve made an exception.


The most important thing to know is that ‘chile powder’ is different than ‘chili powder’. Chile powder (spelled with an ‘e’) is ground chile peppers, where chili (with an ‘i’) powder is a blend of ground chiles and other spices.

Sally describes red chile powder like this: “The best chiles are from Chimayo, New Mexico and the second-best chiles are from anywhere in northern New Mexico. There's something about the high altitude of northern New Mexico that seems to give them a more distinct and delicious flavor.” Other New Mexico chiles, she says, are grown in southern New Mexico’s lower elevations and desert climates especially in around the Hatch area. So, in your search for good-quality red chile powder, look for those from Chimayo and northern New Mexico first, from Hatch and southern New Mexico second.

If your community has a Mexican or Latino grocery, check there. If your community has a Mexican immigrant population, check the grocery stores (and even the Wal-Marts) in the surrounding neighborhood. I also feel comfortable recommending two online sources for red chile powder, Rancho Gordo (the company so famous for its beans) and Jane Butel Cooking (where a St. Louis friend buys her chile powder).

READER RECIPE:
TEN-MINUTE FOOLPROOF
RED CHILE SAUCE

Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 10 minutes (see TIPS)
Makes 5 cups (easily halved)
  • 8 tablespoons good red chile powder (not chili powder, see left)
  • 2 – 4 tablespoons sugar (essential, don’t skip!)
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 cloves garlic (or 2 tablespoons garlic powder)
  • 4 cups water

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Process for several minutes, until the graininess of the chile powder disappears.


READER RECIPE:
TEN-MINUTE ENCHILADAS

Hands-on time: 10 minutes per enchilada
Time to table: 10 minutes
Makes 1 enchilada
  • Ten-Minute Red Chile Sauce (recipe above)
  • Corn tortillas (see TIPS), torn into pieces
  • Cooked ground beef or pork
  • Cooked beans, optional
  • Diced onion
  • Grated cheese, a Mexican cheese (see TIPS) or cheddar cheese
  • 1 egg, fried, optional
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Chopped lettuce & tomato, optional

Pour 1 – 2 tablespoons Red Chile Sauce onto a microwave-safe plate. Top with tortilla, meat, beans if using, onion and cheese, then a top drizzle of Red Chile Sauce. Stop at one layer, or add a second or third. Microwave for two minutes or until hot clear through. Top with a fried egg, cilantro and lettuce and tomato if using. Devour.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE I'm omitting the usual nutrition information since one enchilada can vary so much from the next.
ALANNA’s TIPS Straight from the blender, Red Chile Sauce is hot-hot-hot. But it mellows after resting for about 4 hours and to my taste, it’s the perfect amount of heat, just enough, not too much. Red chile powder stains: you’ll want to store the sauce in glass, not plastic, and be sure to rinse anything it touches quickly. Sally recommends blue corn tortillas. I was delighted with no-preservative whole-kernel El Milagro corn tortillas from a local international grocery and others from Whole Foods. If you make your way into a Mexican grocery, check the cheese case, too. I’ve used an aged ‘crumbling’ cheese called queso cotija from Supremo, it’s addictive too! Rick Bayless’ cookbook Mexican Everyday suggests watching for queso fresco, a fresh cheese which is crumbly like feta but not as creamy or briny. (Queso fresco can also be called queso blanco and queso ranchero.) Bayless suggests using Romano cheese or Parmesan cheese as substitutes.
A big batch of Red Chile Sauce is easy to keep on hand to use with enchiladas or a 'hot sauce' substitute

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. In 2009, Kitchen Parade celebrates its 50th anniversary with a special collection of my mother's recipes.
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I have been working through an extreme Mexican food addiction ever since I moved to California (actually, I think this move has made it ever-so-much worse...), and this is making me want to leave my office right now, go make the sauce, and then go make the enchiladas.

Oh my GOSH this looks good. WOW.
 
No matter what your friend Sally told you, some of the best both red and green chilies come from the Rio Grande valley and Hatch, New Mexico is right in the heart of it. There are farms there that ship stuff everywhere. She is right that fresh roasted chilies are the best, not something that sits on a shelf for years.
 
I've got that Mexican addition too but it's hard to feed where I live except Taco Bell which doesn't count. Your recipes make it all seem so easy, I really like that so thanks.
 
Great recipe. I'm saving it for a weekend full of guests!!! Keep up the good work.
 
Hi Alanna,

This looks so great I'm going to have to make some!!

And thanks for the plug on the book.
 
Hi, Alana, I made the sauce last night and just made a plate of enchiladas for lunch today. YUM. You are right. It is addictive. The only change I would make is to cut back on the sugar. I made half a recipe and used 1 tablespoon and it was still too sweet for my taste. Other than that....well, let's just say I hope I can contain my enchilada addiction. Thanks!
 
Hi, Alanna! I love your blog! This recipe looks delicious! I am currently in "super canning" mode and was wondering if you think the enchilada sauce can be canned?
 
Tiffany ~ Thanks for the nice thoughts! As for canning this, I just don't know, since I don't know enough about the right balance of stuff to keep the mixture from going bad.

THAT said, this is so easy to make, it doesn't rely on seasonal produce, it keeps in the refrigerator so long, it would be high on my own list for canning, even, as you are, in "super canning" mode.
 

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna