Chile Colorado, or Red Chile Sauce (Frieda’s, Inc.)

Back in the 1980s, it was a time before the World Wide Web existed and before it became a trusted marketplace. If you wanted exotic ingredients that were not native to your area, you had to know where there was a store that sold the gourmet item you needed. Either that, or write a letter to such a company, requesting a catalog. You’d probably have that catalog within 8 to 10 business days. Everything – from the getting of information to the slow pace of postal mail – took so long then.

Frieda’s, Inc. changed some of that. They brought gourmet ingredients to your local supermarket’s produce department – items such as Jerusalem artichoke tubers and dried New Mexico Chile peppers. Each item came with recipes so that you could buy the item with the minimum of fuss and possibly cook something you like (without two weeks lead time).

For a recipe using this sauce, click to find Chile Colorado Con Carne.

3 ounce package dried New Mexico Chile Peppers by Frieda
3 cups water
¼ cup finely-chopped shallots
½ teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
cumin powder, garlic, and salt to taste

  1. Break off stems and crack the chile pods, shaking out most of the seeds. Rinse pods and towel or drain dry. Retain the light orange seams. They have lots of flavor.
  2. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Pour over the cleaned pods, and soak for at least 30 min. for the pods to soften, although they will be fine if left to soak overnight.
  3. When they are light red and spongy, include the water they soaked in, in purée the pods in your blender for 1 ½ min.
  4. In a ricer or sieve, over container, stir the purée continuously with a wooden spoon until all that remains is a residue of seeds and fragments of chile skin. The resulting pure chili purée will have the color and texture of a smooth tomato sauce. Add all other ingredients and season to taste. Simmer for at least 10 min. to cook chile. The flavor will improve over time as the spices and chile blend. This sauce keeps well in the refrigerator or can be successfully frozen and thawed.

To use: spoon sauce over a fried egg served on a grilled tortilla for huevos rancheros or simply stir into a pot of beans.


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