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2000s Recipes + Menus

Red Chile Sauce (Chile Colorado)

Makes about 2 1/2 cups
  • Active time:1 hr
  • Start to finish:1 hr
December 2000
Deborah Madison likes to say the sauce is to New Mexico what pesto is to Liguria—it’s everywhere. Colorado in this case is Spanish for “ruddy,” or “red”—as is red chile.
  • 2 oz whole dried New Mexico chiles (6)
  • 1 oz whole dried guajillo chiles (6)
  • 4 cups boiling-hot water
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped white onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons Sherry vinegar, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon sugar, or to taste
  • Rinse chiles and split open, discarding stems, seeds, and ribs.
  • Heat a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet over moderate heat, then toast chiles, skin sides up, in batches, about 30 seconds (be careful not to burn them, or sauce will be bitter). Transfer chiles as toasted to a heatproof bowl and pour boiling water over them. Cover bowl and soak chiles, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 15 minutes.
  • Purée chiles with three fourths of soaking liquid, reserving remainder, in a blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids). Pour purée through a coarse sieve into a bowl, pressing on solids, and discard solids. Whisk reserved soaking liquid into chile mixture.
  • Cook onion, garlic, cumin, and oregano in oil in a large heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, stirring, 2 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Whisk in chile mixture and simmer, partially covered, whisking occasionally, until reduced to about 2 1/2 cups, about 30 minutes. Season with salt, vinegar, and sugar.
Cooks' note: Sauce may be made 1 week ahead, then cooled completely and chilled, covered.