• Chile Sauce 101


Southwest-Style Salsas

By Andrew Zimmern

I’min love with the global pantry. Learning ingredients and techniques from other food worlds is something that really thrills me. One small, simple recipe can be built on for years, providing limitless cooking pleasure. Take these two sauces, red and green salsas from the Southwestern US, familiar to anyone who has ever dined in that part of the world. The first morning I wake up in New Mexico or Arizona, I always hit the best diner in town for some eggs, served up Christmas-style with both red and green salsas. You can use these salsas at the table on any meal, to braise pork, seafood or chicken, to accompany grilled beef, as a sauce for tamales, enchiladas… you name it.

Red & Green Chile Sauces


Red Chile Sauce

  • 3 quarts water
  • 1/2 pound New Mexico chiles—stemmed, seeded and rinsed
  • 1/4 pound applewood-smoked bacon, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Kosher salt

Fresh Tomatillo-Poblano Sauce

  • 2 pounds tomatillos—husked, rinsed and halved
  • 2 poblano chiles—stemmed, halved and seeded
  • 1 serrano chile, stemmed and halved
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Fine sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • Freshly ground pepper


Red Chile Sauce


In a large saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the chiles and simmer over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain the chiles, reserving 3 cups of the cooking water. Transfer the chiles and reserved cooking water to a blender and let cool slightly; puree until smooth.

Wipe out the saucepan. Add the bacon and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until it just starts to render, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, garlic and oregano and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, until the pan is dry, about 2 minutes. Stir in the chile puree and bring to a simmer. Cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until the sauce is thickened and the flavors meld, about 12 minutes. Press the mixture through a fine sieve into a heatproof bowl; discard the solids. Stir in the sugar and season with salt. Use immediately or let cool completely.

MAKE AHEAD The Red Chile Sauce can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Fresh Tomatillo-Poblano Sauce


Preheat the broiler. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the tomatillos with the poblanos, serrano, onion, garlic, olive oil and oregano and spread in a layer. Broil 5 inches from the heat for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are blackened in spots.

Scrape the vegetables into a blender and puree until nearly smooth. Transfer the salsa to a medium saucepan, season with 1 teaspoon of salt and bring to a simmer. Cook until thickened slightly, about 5 minutes. Let the salsa cool to room temperature. Stir in the cilantro and lime juice, season with salt and pepper and serve.

Originally published on Andrew Zimmern’s Kitchen Adventures on foodandwine.com.

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