July 01, 2009

New Mexican Red Chile

Imagine my surprise when I was at the Cub Foods on Lake Street (my favorite grocery store outside of Trader Joe's) and I went into the Mexican area of the produce section and there were dried red New Mexican chiles. Thinking to myself, "how could this be?!" I of course immediately threw them into my cart after looking around and seeing no other packages I just thought it was meant to be. Every time I go home, I always ask my mama to take me to Cosco so I can get a package to bring back to MN to remind me of home. Funny thing, these New Mexican red chiles came from St. Paul - but this is neither here nor there. Well it's maybe here, and there, because my dissertation works to show that Mexican Americans are in the Midwest, so how can New Mexican red chiles be in MN unless we are here too?

So, after running home and looking up my red chile sauce recipe, I decided right then and there I wanted this blog to be able to allow me to theorize the connections between my food, my familia, those who eat my food and my identity. So, I photographed all of the steps of my process, so here is what went down in la kitchen Chicana day one.

First I rinsed and dried my NM Red Chiles, cut them open, de-seeded and de-veined them. I Used the paper towel to scrape the seeds out but kept some on reserve to add some heat later.

While I was busily going through twenty of these bad boys. I just couldn't help but notice this precious little dog paying extra careful attention to my actions. This is her favorite position in the kitchen, waiting for my chopping skills to throw something off the counter to her. Unfortunately she didn't get anything good out of this cooking session.

After de-seeding and de-veining I placed my chiles on a parchment lined baking sheets. This is one of my favorite baking sheets that Mama Jean gave me! Also making a key appearance in this recipe, my red Staub, again, courtesy of Mama Jean. I toasted the chiles at 250 degrees for about ten minutes turning them twice during the process.

Here are some of the seeds that I reserved for adding some more heat. The drying of the chiles already takes some heat out of them and I wasn't sure how hot my sauce would be.

I went ahead and transferred them to 4 cups of water where the chiles were about to be boiled after toasting

Post toast - the chiles were darker in color and putting out some delicious smoky/hot/peppery smell. It made my mouth water just thinking about that perhaps soon I could have my own red chile sauce... but what would I do with it? This is clearly going to be about a five post journey in the decisions on what one can do with the sauce that is obviously going to have to happen another day...

I then transferred all of the peppers into my water and cranked up the heat, wanted to get this boiling. After it boiled I let it simmer while I peeled my garlic because apparently in a Staub water boils a lot more quickly than in my teflon-coated pans.

Here are my chiles taking a dip after just a minute the water was already bubbling. Perhaps in the future I will let this boil a little more. The problem with using the dried chiles is that you kind of have to rehydrate them back to life, and I'm afraid I might not have done this well enough. I'm sure I'll have plenty more opportunities to get this right in the future though!

I thought I'd be clever and peel my garlic while I was waiting for my pot to boil, turns out my pot had to wait for me to get done peeling the garlic. I added this much to my sauce, I LOVE garlic, I probably would add even a bit more for my next batch.

Combining all ingredients in my blender (did A get me this blender or did Mama Jean? Either way notice it's beauty here, the prettiest blender I ever did see). And yes, the chiles, the water the chiles were in and the garlic all went in here.

Blend. But don't liquify - unless you really know your blender, things will be hot and if you learn the hard way like I did, the power of the liquify will blow your top off and spew red chile sauce all (and I mean ALL) over your kitchen and your arm, scalding you in the process. At this point though, it smelled delicious.

Another view of my blended sauce, should've just stuck with it here but no... I had to go and liquify.

Here I used half a stick of unsalted butter, you can use shortening here too for a thicker/richer flavor (I would've used it but I didn't have any on hand) and 4 Tablespoons of flour. Melt the butter all the way and then slowly stir in the flour. Here in this picture is the evidence of the "liquify" button - my Staub would've been nice and clean ready for the sauce part two, but I liquified into it :-(. I could've washed it out, but since the sauce was going back in here I though, what's the point!? Oh well, first post, there is no where to go but up from here.

At this point I just combined the sauce back in with the butter flour mixture to thicken it up a little. Some people prefer to put their sauce through the strainer before adding it back in to cook, I like it thicker. Personal preference I guess. At this point one should also salt to taste. I don't really like salt so I tend to not salt excessively, if others want more salt of course feel free to add it in.

Now, if you were going to use the sauce immediately or within the week I would recommend simmering it for about 10-12 minutes, but as I was jarring mine up to bring as a gift for Mama Jean for the 4th of July celebration at her house I decided to simply jar it with the understanding that it (like a fine wine or cheese) should be aged before serving.

In other words, pour it out of that beautiful jar and heat it on the stove for 10 minutes. This is how much my 20 peppers yielded. Although, again, had I not liquified I would've had closer to a full larger jar too. Well, this Chicana's tired and headed to bed, I totally took pictures of tonight's dinner, strangely, not involving any chile, but delicious none the same you'll just have to wait till I get to that on an otra noche. Overall, my first foray into my blog was somewhat successful. I dipped a flour tortilla into my sauce and it tasted pretty yummy. Not very spicy (disappointment for me) but this means that more people can enjoy it.

I see some carne adovada in my future...


  1. Kandace, you have a lovely blog and a darling little kitchen assistant.

    Your sauce looks and sounds so good that I can hardly wait for tomorrow. I hope we can think of something worthy for it to adorn.

    You are a gifted writer and storyteller, thank you for sharing your kitchen.

  2. Oh man that looks tasty. Invite me over for dinner. Ya know I have a recipe for a chili pepper wine, I'm told it makes a good cooking wine as well as a drinking wine. We should collaborate.

  3. WinePhixation- I'm totally up for collaboration (as evidenced by my third post) I am eager to try out the pulled pork on my own - if that sounds good that should be our goal. Ooooh, or enchiladas... many I just made my own mouth water.