What makes enchilada sauce enchilada sauce, wonders kjonyou? Oh, if only it were that simple. "Just saying 'enchilada sauce' is as amorphous as saying 'pasta sauce,'" says sedimental. "There are many kinds of flavors and colors. You are probably looking for a traditional rich reddish brown spicy sauce."
That sauce, says sedimental, gets its color from dried ancho chiles. "In my red sauce I use several kinds of dried chile (lots of ancho and maybe a chipotle or chiles de arbol), chicken stock, onion, cumin, garlic (and sometimes chocolate)." But of course, there are as many special recipes as there are "Hispanic grandmas," says sedimental.
"There is a standard enchilada sauce in two places—cans and Tex-Mex restaurants," jokes paulj. "There is no reason you can't use your favorite mole, or a tomatillo-chile sauce, or a creamy poblano sauce. There's even a name for a dish using soupy beans as the sauce (enfrijoladas)."
"Traditionally, enchilada sauces are very smooth and rather thick: most recipes have you put cooked sauce in the blender and then send that through a sieve for maximum smoothness," says Jenny Ondioline. penthouse pup cheats a little on the old style by making a version with preground chili powder: "The trick is to use very good chili powder (aligned with your taste preferences)," says penthouse pup. pegasus505 agrees: "I make a similar one. However, I sauté all the spices with the flour and oil to bring out the oils. I don't use tomato paste, but rather add a can of tomato sauce and simmer until it is thick. I prefer this type to the dried chile sauce which is too bitter to me."
Discuss: What Makes an Enchilada Sauce?