Blog of an aspiring foodie

Ancho chile sauce appetizer

Posted by beer_chris on 14-November-2006

We're getting going in a new dinner club with JD and Whit and few others. I've signed up for appetizer, and decided tot ry and replicate on a small scale the Santa Fe chicken I had at the Greenspoint Club.

Initially I thought I would put the chicken pieces in scoops chips then thought I would try a nacho-esque creation as well. I also decided to try a trio of meats – chicken, crab and chorizo.

The appetizer needed two key qualities – to be small enough such that it could easily be popped as one piece into a mouth, and also to be dry enough on the outside so as not to get sauce or melted cheese all over fingers. With the scoops this was an easy bill – just needed to make sure the chips did not get soggy. With the nachos I was sacrificing one-bit efficiency and so needed to make sure of a couple of things: avoiding soggy became even more important – soggy nachos cannot be picked up and eaten in two bites – and I needed a 'glue' to hold the meat/sauce on the chip.

But before I did all of this calculating of the physics of tortilla chips, I needed a good recipe for an ancho chile sauce. I started with two likely looking candidates online, here and here.

I liked the basics of the first recipe – especially the raisins – but as an enchilada sauce I was worried it woudln't really thicken up without some type of thickening agent added (flour, cornstarch, dairy) – especially given how little fat was in it. It also had very little seasoning. The second recipe also seemed very lightly seasoned, and it used evaporated milk of all things, as well as sour cream and cheese to thicken it. This seemed destined for gloppiness, and so I was on my guard. I ended up with something in between – based primarily on the first recipe but with more spices and some cream to thicken it up.

CHW Ancho Chile Sauce

2 tbsp butter or equiv in pan drippings
2 ancho chiles
1 med onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic (pressed)
2 small tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 c chicken stock
2 tsp dried leaf oregano
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander seed
1/4 c raisins
1/3 c heavy cream
1 tbsp butter
salt, pepper to taste

Rehydrate the anchos in a bowl of water for 30 minutes. Seed & chop. Heat the butter in a skillet until the foam subsides and solids are just browning. Add onion and saute until soft. Add chiles and pressed garlic. Add all dry spices, bloom for thirty seconds and add tomatoes. Stir to combine and add chicken stock – whisk briefly and add raisins. Bring to a rolling simmer and reduce by half.

Puree result in blender. Return to pan and bring to a low simmer. Add cream, simmer until just thickened. Lower heat and add last tbsp of butter, whisking to combine. Taste and correct for salt and pepper.

Thoughts on the sauce: not really creamy enough. Probably needs more butter and cream at the end to bring it together. Additionally, did not like the tomato flavor – verging on vegetal. Either bring that out or replace it with a small amount of paste. Cumin was right on, oregano could be kicked up a bit. Coriander seed maybe didn't add much, but I'm thinking it sharpened the flavor of the cumin. I'm afraid to leave it out for now. Needed about a half tsp at the end of salt, and I think overall the spiciness could be increased – perhaps by leaving some of the ancho seeds in.

Note, discovered I actually used New Mexico chiles – slightly different then anchos, which are dried poblanos – New Mexico chiles are dried anaheim peppers. Slightly less heat in an anaheim as I remember.


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