New Mexico Chile Sauce

chilesaucepMJ, the specialist of New Mexican cuisine and a living encyclopaedia of local chilli (called chile in New Mexico) lives far far away from me, but when I first visited her blog (MJ’s Kitchen) I felt instantly close to her since we both share a passion for chilli peppers in all their forms. Thanks to MJ’s generosity I was able to discover green chile powder. Today I wanted to share with you the famous chile sauce which I was able to make from genuine New Mexico products, once again thanks to the wonderful gift parcel sent by my dear friend. It was deliciously hot, beautiful, smelled fantastic and was completely different from all the hot sauces I know. As the first chilli sauce without any oil it’s also the lightest chilli sauce I have ever made. In short, I couldn’t have asked for more.

As a chilli sauce addict I have at least one kind of homemade chilli sauce in my kitchen every day, not to mention several store-bought jars, so obviously I am thrilled every time I learn a new recipe. As I have mentioned, this one is completely different from everything I know, but from my short experience I can say its versatility goes well beyond the New Mexico cuisine, I am not experienced in yet. Apart from Huevos Rancheros (see MJ’s recipe here), I have used it successfully simply with fried eggs, on an open sandwich, with grilled sausages instead of ketchup and even in Japanese rice dishes! I can very well imagine it as a dipping sauce for anything and as a sauce served with grilled or roast meats. It will certainly be another staple in my collection of hot sauces. Thank you once more, dear MJ, for your generosity and for this fantastic discovery!

Even though I was lucky to use genuine New Mexican chilli and oregano, I am certain that they can be replaced with dried chilli of any origin and “standard” oregano too (see the TIPS below). As a serial recipe modifier, I couldn’t stop myself from making some changes here too. First of all I made only a tiny batch because I was afraid of spoiling the precious products I have received (I obtained about 200 ml of sauce). Since MJ has posted two different versions of chile sauce (one made with whole dried pods and another made with powder), after tasting the extremely hot 100% pequin chile sauce I obtained, I have decided to add mild chile powder and thus combined both recipes. I have also added some agave syrup and vinegar used by MJ in powdered chile sauce… and am not sure how far I went away from the original New Mexico flavours, so make sure to check here MJ’s original chile sauce recipes.

Other homemade ideas chilli addicts might like:

Italian Peperoncini sott'olio
Italian Peperoncini sott’olio
Japanese: Easy Taberu Rayu
Japanese: Easy Taberu Rayu
China: Salt-Pickled Chilli Peppers
China: Salt-Pickled Chilli Peppers
Japanese: Raimu Koshou (Chilli and Lime Zest Paste)
Japanese: Raimu Koshou (Chilli and Lime Zest Paste)

TIPS: You can use only whole chilli pods here of any variety (see below). If you must do it with chilli powder only, follow MJ’s recipe here because the procedure will be different.

Mexican oregano is much more aromatic than European oregano, so I suggest doubling the amounts if you have the latter and adding the second half after boiling the sauce, when it is cooling down (otherwise the sauce might become too bitter).

You can use water or stock her, but bear in mind that if you only refrigerate the sauce, it will keep longer if prepared with water (if you freeze, it doesn’t make any difference).

Special equipment: food processor (with this amount a baby food processor works best); spice or coffee grinder

Preparation: about one hour (including the time to make the liquid cool down and a second mixing process)

Ingredients (yields about 200 ml):

13 dried short red chilli pods of your choice, especially in terms of heat level (if you have only very hot chilli pods, add some mild chilli pods or chilli powder; I have used 7 very hot pequin chile pods and added 3 tablespoons mild New Mexican chile powder) 

300 ml water (or stock, see the TIPS)

3 tablespoons mild New Mexican chile powder

1/3 small onion (I have used shallot), roughly chopped

1/2 garlic clove, roughly chopped

1/5 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground

1/5 teaspoon Mexican oregano or 2x more “normal” oregano (if you use “standard” oregano, don’t add all of it at once; see the tips above)

salt to taste

1/4 teaspoon vinegar (or more to taste)

1/2 teaspoon agave syrup

Remove the green stalks from the chilli pods, shake them to remove the seeds (you might need to squeeze them a bit to do it).

Place the chilli pods, the onion, the cumin, the oregano and the water in a small pan.

Let it simmer for about 20 minutes until the pods are well softened.

Put aside and let it cool.

Mix the solid parts (chilli pods, onion, spices, garlic) in a food processor with half of the water from the boiling process. If using chilli powder, add (to start) 2 tablespoons of it.

Add the remaining water slowly to obtain the desired consistency.

Taste the chile sauce. Add salt, vinegar and agave syrup.

If it’s too hot, add more mild powder and mix. Taste once more, add more syrup, vinegar or salt if needed.

Let it stand about 10 minutes. Mix once more.

The sauce keeps for one week (at least) in the fridge.

If you used stock instead of water it might have a shorter life though.

20 Replies to “New Mexico Chile Sauce”

  1. Congratulations on another lovely chile sauce. As you know, I’m not a canner and the closest thing to a ‘fresh’ chile in my fridge is sambal oelek.

    I’ve made my own chile blend using roasted/toasted dry chiles like guajillo, mulato and ancho but I’d love to try something with those hot pequin and arbol chiles one day. For right now, I’ sticking to the many many bottles of chile sauce found in the Mexican area of the grocery store. 🙂

    Thanks for commenting on the recent salmon portioning post, by the way. Did you see the gluten free pasta I had posted just before it? I thought I’d try at least ONE recipe and, even though it wasn’t bad, I’m glad I don’t have to restrict my diet that way.

    1. Thank you so much, A_Boleyn. I don’t get Mexican chilli varieties here, so I was also thrilled to discover different chilli flavours. I don’t know if I would call something that I keep a week in the fridge as a “canned” product… For me preserved food means months or even years of pantry life 🙂 I must say that most store-bought chile sauces are either too sweet or too salty or taste so artificial (high dose of MSG I guess), I always try to prepare them on my own.
      I did see your pasta! Congratulations! It looked very cute. Sorry I didn’t comment, but when I had a “chance” to taste gluten-free pasta or bread, it always tasted awful, so, like you, I’m glad I don’t have gluten intolerance (by the way, according to surveys most people trying gluten-free diet don’t have it either… it has become as popular as using margarine in the 80s; the only positive side of this “fashion” is that shops are so full of gluten-free products, people who really have a problem with gluten, have a huge choice of products nowadays!).

      1. Even if your sauces only last a week, they ‘could’ last longer. At my house, since I use them so rarely, they’d have to be able to hold up to 3-6 months.

        I understand not commenting on the pasta. As I said in my post, I wouldn’t switch unless I had to either. 🙂

        1. I recently also lack time to cook as much as I’d like, post recipes, take photographs and also comment, so sometimes I have to choose posts on which I can comment, especially in the case of such prolific bloggers as you 😉

  2. Your chile sauce is absolutely beautiful!! The color and texture is perfect! You know I will be making this recipe because I’ve never made a “sauce” with chile pequin and definitely haven’t use the pequin and chile powder combination. You know you are making me blush with all of your extremely nice comments and also very happy that you are enjoying your package! I knew from day one of reading your blog that I have found a chile (chili, chilli) soul mate. 🙂

    1. Dear MJ, thank you so much for your compliments and kind words! Your approval is crucial and means a lot to me. I was so scared not to spoil your wonderful presents… I enjoy your parcel’s content a lot of course! I just try to go through it slowly… to make the discovery last longer!

    1. Thanks a lot, Karen. Given the quality of Mexican food here, I must have had enchiladas maybe 12 years ago and in another country… but I should do them one day at home. MJ’s blog is the perfect source!

  3. Yes MJ is a master in chiles! Great sauce and so nice of her to send you all these goodies, although I would definitely cut back on the amount of chile haha!

  4. I love home made chilli sauce Sissi and this one looks so delicious! I also have a variety of dried chillies in my pantry at any given time, they add such a level of flavour to any dish (even if you remove the seeds so they are not as hot). The colour is exquisite. I’m intrigued by Mexican oregano and will have to search around for it. I know a couple of people heading down to Central and South America in the next few weeks so I’ll have to ask them to keep a lookout for the oregano.

    1. Thank you so much, Eva. Mexican oregano has an amazing, powerful aroma. I wish I could grow it… unfortunately MJ says it’s a bush, so no way it could grow on my balcony… (not to mention the difference of climate of course).

  5. What a beautiful chilli sauce, I love the vibrant color…I yet have to make chilli sauce at home…and I can imagine how much tastier this sauce is as compared to the store bought ones.
    Enjoy the rest of your week Sissi 🙂

  6. Love your site! I’m Japanese and happen to live in New Mexico. I’m a big fan of Asian cuisines and am a big-time pepperhead! Try making a NM green chile sauce. There are no tomatillos but you’ll to have MJ send you some fresh HOT Hatch green chile when they’re in season. Anaheims can be subbed with added serrano or jalapeno for heat. All the chiles must be roasted. That’s what gives the sauce it’s distinct flavor! Of course you can order frozen Hatch green chile but it’s more fun to do the roasting yourself! 🙂

    Thought I’d share…I just made a wickedly hot condiment. Chopped habanero and red Thai chiles, roasted in the oven, tossed with a bit of oil, until the top was very dark and had crisped. Tossed after removing, adding some sea salt and more oil (I used rice brain). After it’s cooled, store in an airtight container. It’s versatile. Great on everything…Thai, Indian, Caribbean, Korean, Japanese, SE Asian, American, Italian, Spanish, Mexican, S. American, etc (There was some redundancy there, I know). Add a bit of sesame oil to give it a more Jap, Korean, Chinese flavor. Can’t go wrong with this one! Habanero is essential!

    Have you ever tried Japanese shishito peppers? I love them, quickly stir-fried with a pinch of salt. What’s fun about these, most are medium hot but the really fun part is when you get one that’s really hot! It’s called Shishito Surprise!


    1. Hi Chieko, thank you so much for your kind comment and compliments! A Japanese living in New Mexico and loving chile… I wish I could invite myself to your table from time to time 😉 The dishes you prepare must be fantastic! Thanks a lot for the tips! I’ll maybe try making the fresh green chile sauce with European chile one day.
      Your condiment sounds deliciously hot! Luckily I have access to fresh habaneros and Thai chiles here, so I might try it one day! Thank you for the idea.
      Of course I love shishito! I order them grilled in izakayas every year when I go to Japan (and since I go to an izakaya for every dinner practically, I get quite a big amount of these delicious chillies every time 😉 ). I also bring back several packages of fresh shishitos every year. Last autumn I have dried the seeds and this spring I plan to sow them. Who knows, maybe they’ll grow here since I can grow Thai chilli without problems. I’ll certainly boast about the harvest if I manage 😉
      I must look for shishito surprise next time! Thank you once again for your visit and kind comment.

      1. I should have taken time to find out where you live, Sissi. You take time to post and I don’t even read it? My bad. Sorry! I lived in the Rheingau Valley of Deutschland for 3 years. What a treat! Food, wine, beer, cheese, pickled herring, breads…all of it! Drool…

        Regarding Shishito Surprise, recently I was at my 83 year old Japanese friend’s house. I fried up some shishito. I always do them whole. Mineko told me because of her age, she can’t handle the heat any more so usually removes the seeds but she let me cook them up whole anyway. They were fantastic and we were eating right out of the pan while standing by the stove! I saw her make a face. She said, “Oh, that one was hot!” Surprise!! I laughed and told her I hadn’t had a really hot one yet. Two peppers later, I got one. I wish they were all hot but this is fun for those people who don’t usually eat hot stuff!

        I’m envious you’re in the EU. Enjoy yourself!!!

        1. Oh, so this is the meaning of the “surprise” here! I don’t think I have ever stumbled upon a very hot shishito, but I have noticed some of them are hotter and some almost mild…
          So glad to learn you are also a fan of pickled herring. I buy tons of it every time I travel to Germany and German riesling in huge amounts too! It’s the best white wine in the world!
          Actually, I live in Switzerland, so not really in EU, but definitely surrounded by it 😉
          Thanks again for your visit!

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