Chile Sauce (for Tamales)

If you’re going to be a real tamalera (they tell me) you must make your own chili sauce FROM SCRATCH. Like all delicious bits of the tamale-making process, this is really important. Plus, I got some great shots of the chiles so… Here we go.

I used two kinds of dried chiles – “New Mexico Chilis” and “Chili Cascaval” (guajillo).

chile sauce | a post from sundriedtomatoe.wordpress.comFor the record, spellcheck cannot handle the plural of “chili” so excuse me if there are six variations of the word.

Both types have a mild heat along with that pepper flavor (similar to a red bell pepper, but stronger).

Side note: the Fiesta brand is produced by Bolner’s Fiesta Products, Inc and is located in San Antonio, TX. Their stuff is fresh and flavorful – I’ve never bought a Fiesta product that turned out wrong. We get all their products in grocery stores but, in case you live elsewhere, you can order things like dried chili peppers or cumin from them online.

Moving on.

Chop off chili tops and remove seeds.

chile sauce | a post from sundriedtomatoe.wordpress.comRemoving the seeds is a biggie. Seeds come with two things you don’t really want in your chili sauce: heat and texture.

When in doubt, wear gloves. These guys were dry so I didn’t have any problems with chemical burns but listen… you don’t know until it’s too late. I learned this the hard way with some fresh jalapeños.

So I chopped off top, sliced the chili open (longways) and then scraped out the seeds with a knife. Then tossed them in a stockpot, like so:

chile sauce | a post from sundriedtomatoe.wordpress.comI used the whole bag of cascavel and half of the New Mexico bag. The NM chilis were much more dry; they just kind of cracked open.

Submerge the chilis in water.

chile sauce | a post from sundriedtomatoe.wordpress.comThen boil on medium high for 20 minutes or more.

chile sauce | a post from sundriedtomatoe.wordpress.comThe idea is to soften and rehydrate the chilis so use 20 minutes as a minimum. Give the pot a little stir and see how it feels. You’re going to be blending these guys down into a sauce/paste so you want them really soft and with a high water content.

chile sauce | a post from sundriedtomatoe.wordpress.comSee? Very floppy.

Next, blend.

chile sauce | a post from sundriedtomatoe.wordpress.comI pulled the chilis out with tongs and dropped them right into the blender. They were floppy but not falling apart.

Use a bit of the broth from the pot to add water as needed.

And reserve the chili broth! It adds a ton of flavor and some subtle color to the masa (dough) that you make on Tamale Day Two.

chile sauce | a post from sundriedtomatoe.wordpress.comMmmmm. This mix had a mild heat and a lot of flavor. It’s light and slightly acidic to the heavy umami (ooh! look at me using fancy culinary words) of the beef and pork.

Of all the steps in tamale-making, this was one of the easiest. Also, there’s just something about making a smooth, steamy sauce that makes me happy.

What’s your experience with chili sauce? How does this look compared to sauces you are familiar with?

Yesterday: tamal-makin’ overview
Tomorrow: tamal assembly!

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