Home Cooking

New Mexico Chile Sauce


More from Home Cooking

Home Cooking

New Mexico Chile Sauce

CindyJ | | May 20, 2008 02:22 PM

I just returned from my first-ever trip to beautiful New Mexico, and among the things I loved most was the delicious red and green chile sauces that are on virtually every menu. I'd love to be able to make these sauces at home, but, after looking at recipes from some of the area's restaurants' cookbooks (Coyote Cafe, Rancho de Chimayo, Cafe Pasqual's) I'm very confused.

First, for the green chile sauce -- assuming I can even find fresh New Mexico chiles here in Pennsylvania -- how do I know if the chiles are hot or mild? In my (limited) experience, I found the green chile sauce to be hotter than the red. The Rancho de Chimayo Cookbook, for example, says, "The restaurant makes Green Chile Sauce [by] combining equal proportions of mild and hot green chiles." Does that mean I can use ANY kind of green chiles, so long as the hot/mild balance is right? I've been under the impression that the "real deal" must be made from fresh New Mexico chiles.

Next question, should I add meat, or not? Or is it simply a matter of personal preference? Also, should I add a thickener (flour, cornstarch, etc.) or not?

For the red chile sauce -- should it be chunky, or smooth (Cafe Pasqual's says to "pass it through a fine-mesh strainer)?

And for both red and green sauces, should liquid such as vegetable broth or water be added, as some recipes (Rancho de Chimayo calls for 4 cups of water in a 6-cup yielding recipe; Coyote Cafe calls for 1 cup of liquid in a recipe that yields 4 cups) call for?

Part of my dilemma is that I haven't eaten and analyzed enough New Mexico chile sauce to know what would make the most sense for my liking. I need some expert guidance here. Thanks!