Chile Rojo
  • 5 oz. dried red chiles
  • 3 cup very hot water
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar (you could use red wine or cider vinegar)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  1. The chiles should be toasted lightly before making the sauce, both to reduce some of their bitterness and to enhance their flavor. Cut them open with scissors or a sharp knife and remove the stem, seeds, (use gloves) and interior ribs. Toast them in a skillet (heated to medium-hot) just until the skin blisters slightly and they become fragrant. DO NOT blacken or burn them. At most, they should give up an occasional and light wisp of smoke
  2. Put the toasted chiles in a bowl and cover them with very hot water (use a small plate to weigh them down and keep them submerged). Let them soak for about half an hour, until they're nice and soft. Transfer the chiles and about half of the soaking liquid to a container for pureing in like the pitcher of a blender or the bowl of a food processor and add the vinegar, seasonings and garlic.
  3. Puree the mix until it's as smooth as you can get it, adding more (all, if necessary) of the soaking liquid. It should be thinner than you might think, almost runny about the consistency of steak sauce. You can use it just like this, or strain it for a slightly more refined sauce.
  4. The finished sauce will keep for several months in the fridge, though it might thicken to a paste from the pectin in the peppers. It thins out well with a little chicken stock or even water.
  5. Use the sauce to accessorize anything that might like a little Mexican zing poach chicken in it, dip tortillas for enchiladas, add it to soup. I like it on poached eggs.
You can use just about any dried red chiles you have on hand; some Anchos, Guajillos, New Mexicans, and good hot Pasillas de Oaxaca.