In New Mexico you can go green, red or Christmas, referring of course to the type of chile sauce you choose to top your meal – Christmas being a combination of the two. I am in love with red chile sauce, for you are able to tap out the rich and slightly bitter taste of dried ripened chiles without all of the heat associated with chile peppers. During September and October you can’t throw a pebble in Albuquerque or Santa Fe without hitting a ristra, the ubiquitous garland of dried or drying red chiles. I brought one home on a recent visit and can’t bring myself to rip any chiles from the strand. Luckily, dried red chiles are available in abundance in this neck of the woods, making it possible to create this sauce any time of year. I particularly love it in the fall, to drizzle over hearty soups and stews, specifically, New Mexico’s rich posole.
- 4 dried Guajillo chiles
- 4 dried Ancho chiles
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano (Mexican oregano, if you have it)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Break the stems off the chiles and discard them. Break the chiles into pieces, shaking out as many seeds as possible. Put the chiles in a saucepan with the garlic, cumin and oregano. Add water just to cover the chiles (2 to 3 cups) and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat, cover the pot and let the chiles sit for 10 minutes until they have softened. Transfer the chiles, along with the soaking liquid, in batches to a blender and puree until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, pushing the sauce through with a rubber spatula; discard the solids. Season with salt and serve.