From Santa Fe to New York City with Love: Homemade Enchilada Sauce

Enchilada Saunce - Ingredients

I love southwest cooking, especially the freshly made sauces I’ve tasted on my numerous trips to Santa Fe. The bold flavors and colors coming out of Mark Miller’s Coyote Cafe have been an inspiration for years. With that in mind, I decided to try and recreate a nice, smokey flavored enchilada sauce that could be used on anything, not just enchiladas. Natasha came over to document the process for me and I think we’ve got a first try hit.

I’m not the experimenter that Xene Abraham is, so if you refine the recipe, let me know how and we can turn something really good into something great!



    • 1 – Large Onion
    • 5 – Cloves Garlic
    • 4 – Dried Ancho Chili’s
    • 1 lb – Tomatillos (remove the skin)
    • 1 – Red pepper
    • 1 – Green pepper
    • 2 – Anaheim peppers
    • 1 – tblsp cumin
    • ¼ cup – chili powder
    • 2 tblsp – Oregano
    • 2 – Bay leaves
    • 1 – Can diced tomatoes

The Process

Prepare the dried ancho chilis by cutting them in half with scissors, deseeding them in the process. Using the scissors, cut the anchos into 2 inch pieces, place them in a 2 cups of hot, hot water and them them sit while you’re preparing the onions.

You’ll see a lot of recipes recommending that you pan roast the anchos for a little bit before reconstituting them, but I have found this leaves a bitter aftertaste in the water, which we’ll want to use later to get the full flavor of the anchos into the sauce.

Enchilada Saunce - Chilis

Roughly chop the onion garlic, and bell peppers. No need to worry about dicing them; the sauce will be pureed in a blender at the end. Put the chopped ingredients into a large dutch oven or sauce pan along with the cumin, chili power, oregano and bay leaf. Cover with  water, bring to a boil,  and turn down to a simmer.

Slice the tomatillos in half and add them to the simmering pot. Add more water to cover, if needed.

Enchilada Sauce - Tomatillos

Talk the anaheim chilis and roast them on an open flame on the stove until the entire surface is blistered and black.

Enchilada Sauce - Roast the Peppers

Take the chilis off the flame long enough to cool a bit before rubbing the outer skin off to expose the roasted flesh of the pepper. Slice them long ways to remove the seeds and membrane, roughly chop and put into the simmering pot.

Add the ancho chilis along with the water they are soaking in.

Enchilada Sauce - Pepper base

Roughly puree the can of tomatoes and add to the chili pepper mixture to finish the base of the sauce. Simmer for 10 minutes to let the flavors do a Vulcan Mind Meld.

Enchilada Sauce - Before puree

To complete the mind meld, puree the entire mixture in a blender, not the Cuisinart. The sauce should be smooth and creamy, with no texture on the tongue, just a nice smokey flavor from the chilis.

Enchilada Sauce - FinalYou can use this sauce on just about anything; try baked chicken smothered in sauce on top of a big plate of rice, or as a light covering for huevos rancheros at breakfast.. I think you like it.


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One Response to From Santa Fe to New York City with Love: Homemade Enchilada Sauce

  1. Xene says:

    Thanks for the shout out Mark! I love homemade enchilada sauce, and roasting the peppers over the open flame is a great way to add that wonderful smokey flavor. I’ve been cooking with chili peppers for a while now and I find the heat of any pepper/chili can be extremely inconsistent, one time it’s super mild, the next time the heat is unbearable. I’ve started to keep them as whole as possible while I cook the flavor into the dish and then test the heat level. The spice level can be adjusted by not processing the entire chili should the sauce be too hot upon the initial tasting. Of course, the peppers you have listed here are all fairly mild, so that shouldn’t be necessary in this instance. All my experimentation does get me in a bind once in a while, so I’ve learned how to temper myself along the way. I had to add canned pumpkin to counterbalance the last chili experiment gone wrong just to save the dish, boy was that a trick!

    Thanks again for the mention. ~ Xene