Ancho Chile Sauce

Ancho Chile Sauce, counter-clockwise from left: the finished sauce, the dried ancho chiles used to make it, the poblano pepper (that is called ancho when dried), the water left from reconstituting/steeping the ancho chiles used to make the sauce.

This past weekend I went to a great grilling party hosted by some friends from South Africa; they use the term “braai” the way Americans might use barbecue, and this party was a “bring ‘n’ braai,” i.e., bring what you’re going to grill and share.

I decided to make flank steak tacos, so I prepared this flavorful, dark red sauce as both a marinade for the steak and a taco sauce.

I have been interested in experimenting with the ancho chile for some time and to reproduce some of the great things I’ve had at mexican restauraunts; last week I stumbled across the peppers at an asian grocery for about for about $1.50 for a bag with enough to make this recipe 2-3 times.  The “ancho,” meaning “wide”, is a dried, ripe poblano pepper;  in the photo above I’ve also shown the fresh, green poblano, but it is not used in this recipe!  I guess the dried version is called “wide” because it typically appears wide and flat.

Sauce ingredients (to yield ~2 cups):

  • 4 large dried ancho chiles, pan roasted, reconstituted (save water), stemmed and seeded, rinsed, and coarsely torn
  • water from reconstituted chiles
  • roasted garlic, 6 medium-large cloves (e.g., pan roasted in skin, then peeled)
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 T. tomato paste
  • 1 T. brown sugar
  • 2 T. Worcestershire sauce (or substitute another fish sauce or soy sauce)
  • 1 T. ground cumin
  • salt to taste

Begin by dry roasting the dried ancho chiles and the unpeeled garlic cloves in a pan on medium heat.  For such preparations, Chef Rick Bayless suggests doing this until the peppers just begin to smoke (flipping the peppers to do this on each side); he uses a spatula to push them flat to make better contact with the hot surface.  Roast the garlic cloves in their skin, turning occassionally, until it is tender then peel.

Dry Roasting Ancho Chiles and Garlic Cloves

Next, rinse the dried ancho chiles to clean them, and reconstitute them for at least 1/2 hour in warm water, perhaps 3 cups in a large pan or bowl; place a plate over them during this time so that the peppers stay submerged. (Alternately, you can steep them in boiling water.)  Then remove the chiles, save the water, and tear them over the sink and remove the seeds and veins, and rinse the peppers inside.

Lastly, simply combine the reconstituted chiles and other ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth; use the water saved from reconstituted chiles to acheive the desired sauce consistency.  If you have a blender with narrow-bottomed container , as I do, add the ingredients just a bit at a time with a bit of the water so that they will blend more easily.

An aside: save the rest of the water used to reconstitute the peppers!  Use it to flavor other salsa or rice, such as my Scotch Bonnet Beans & Rice!

If the sauce is too watery, reduce by simmering it in a pan until desired consistency.

Use the sauce as a marinade for flank steak, skirt steak, or other meats; apply it liberally to all sides and marinate for at least 1/2 hour, then get to grillin’!

The sauce can also be used as a dip for chips or to complement tacos and other dishes.

Chile Rellenos with Ancho Chile Sauce

Tonight it accompanied my Chiles Rellenos!
(That post is forthcoming; I’m just too tired to do it tonight.)

Here are some related recipes that I consulted: Ancho Chile Sauce, Red Chile Adobo SauceCarne Adobada, and Pumpkin and Ancho Chile Mole.

P.S. Yay for Pati’s Mexican Table: a wonderful program on PBS that I just discovered this past weekend!  This is a nice addition to one of my favorites: Rick Bayless’ Mexico – One Plate at a Time.

5 responses

  1. Pingback: Un Cuento de Dos Chiles Rellenos | Kitchen Convivial

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