Both of my parents are fabulous cooks, but neither one is very good at documenting their family recipes so that we younger generations can learn how to make and pass down the wonderful dishes that have always played such a major role in our family meals and celebrations. This recipe is one that my father finally typed up and taught me how to make this Christmas — his rich spicy red chili sauce.
This sauce can be stored in the refrigerator and served in our Tamale Party Posole, over tamales, over enchiladas, or in anything else for which you’d typically buy a can of red enchilada sauce. The level of spiciness can be controlled by the combination of California and New Mexico chilies you choose to use (see cook’s note below).
My dad learned how to make red chili sauce from his grandmother — our Nana — who raised him from childhood. Nana immigrated to the United States from the state of San Luis Potosi, Mexico, in 1915, settling in southern California by 1920.
But as Dad explained to me this year, he regrettably never learned how to make Nana’s actual red chili sauce recipe. As a boy, he just didn’t spend much time in the kitchen helping his grandmother (although he did learn how to make her tamales), and Nana passed away before my dad ever started making this sauce himself.
Dad spent years testing out variations of this sauce until it tasted how he remembers Nana’s own chili sauce tasting.
- 1 Bag dried chili Pasilla (2oz.)
- ½ Bag dried chili California
- ½ Bag dried chili New Mexico (dried red chilies, not the roasted green chilies)
- 2 medium onions diced
- 6-8 cloves garlic diced
- 1 Tablespoon cumin powder
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Remove the stems from the chilies (not the seeds) and place in a sauce pan with 2 quarts of water. Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Place the chili and water mixture in a blender and liquefy. Pour through a strainer and push through with a rubber spatula. Put the residue back into the blender with one quart of broth (pork or beef-homemade is best). Liquefy and repeat straining again.
- Pour the chili into a sauce pan and add onion, garlic and cumin. Simmer over low heat for ½ hour. Chili will become darker. Add salt and pepper to taste.