Enchilada sauce is a staple in Mexican cuisine, but have you ever wondered what it actually tastes like?
Is it spicy or sweet? Earthy or fresh?
In this article, we’ll explore the flavors and ingredients of both red and green enchilada sauces, and how they differ in taste.
From the tartness of tomatillos to the heat of jalapeños, we’ll break down the components that make up this delicious sauce.
Whether you’re a fan of mild or spicy, homemade or store-bought, this article will give you a better understanding of what to expect from enchilada sauce.
So grab a chip and get ready to dive into the world of enchilada sauce flavors!
What Does Enchilada Sauce Taste Like?
Enchilada sauce is a smooth and flavorful sauce that is typically used in Mexican cuisine to make enchiladas, but can also be used in other dishes. The taste of enchilada sauce can vary depending on the type of chili used and the other ingredients added to it.
Red enchilada sauce is made with red chilies, which give it an earthy flavor. It is usually seasoned with chili powder, garlic, cumin, vinegar, onions, and sometimes tomatoes or tomato paste. The flavor of red enchilada sauce can range from mild to spicy, depending on the type of chili used and whether or not the seeds were left in.
Green enchilada sauce, on the other hand, is made with green chilies and tomatillos. It has a fresh and tart flavor, with a little bit of heat from jalapeños or serrano peppers. Green enchilada sauce is often sweeter than red enchilada sauce due to the use of tomatillos.
Both red and green enchilada sauces can be adjusted to your desired level of spiciness by adding more or less chili powder or fresh peppers. Some recipes also call for additional spices like cinnamon or oregano to add warmth and complexity to the flavor.
The Basics Of Enchilada Sauce
Enchilada sauce is typically made with a combination of chili powder, seasonings, tomato paste, oil, flour, and broth. Chili powder is the main ingredient in enchilada sauce and is responsible for most of the flavor. It is important to use a quality brand such as McCormick, as different types of chili powder can vary in heat and flavor.
Seasonings like garlic powder, cumin, coriander, smoked paprika, oregano, salt, and cayenne pepper are added to create a deep and satisfying complexity to the sauce. Tomato paste is used to add a signature tomato flavor to the sauce. Oil and flour are combined to make a roux, which helps thicken the sauce.
Broth forms the base of the sauce and can be chicken or vegetable broth. It is important to use low sodium broth to control the saltiness of the sauce. A small amount of vinegar is added at the end to awaken the flavors of the sauce.
For those who prefer a sweeter and richer flavor, cocoa powder, sugar, and cinnamon can be added as a substitute for Mexican chocolate. This adds a depth of flavor that many people enjoy.
Red Enchilada Sauce: A Spicy And Bold Flavor Profile
Red enchilada sauce is known for its bold and spicy flavor profile. The combination of red chilies, garlic, and onions gives it a savory and slightly sweet taste, while the addition of chili powder adds a kick of heat. The spiciness of the sauce can be adjusted to your liking by using milder or hotter chilies and adjusting the amount of chili powder used.
The use of vinegar in red enchilada sauce is also key to its flavor profile. It adds a tangy and acidic note that balances out the richness of the sauce. Some recipes also call for the use of tomatoes or tomato paste, which adds a touch of sweetness and acidity to the sauce.
One important thing to note is that the flavor of red enchilada sauce can vary depending on the type of chili used. Ancho, pasilla, New Mexico, Cascabel, and Chili de Arbol are all popular choices for making red enchilada sauce. Each chili has its own unique flavor profile and level of spiciness, so experimenting with different types can lead to new and exciting flavor combinations.
Green Enchilada Sauce: A Fresh And Tangy Taste
Green enchilada sauce is a delicious and tangy sauce that is perfect for those who love a fresh and zesty flavor. It is typically made with green chilies, tomatillos, garlic, onions, and spices. The tomatillo, a small green fruit with a dry, leafy husk, is the key ingredient that gives green enchilada sauce its unique flavor. It has a slightly herbal taste that is both fruity and tart.
Green enchilada sauce has a fresh and tangy taste that is perfect for those who want to add a little bit of zest to their dishes. It is often used as a dipping sauce for chips or as a sauce for enchiladas. The sauce can be adjusted to your desired level of spiciness by adding more or less jalapeños or serrano peppers.
To make green enchilada sauce less spicy, you can substitute Mediterranean oregano with Mexican oregano to achieve a more authentic flavor. Additionally, you can adjust the amount of chili powder or fresh peppers used in the recipe.
The Ingredients That Make Up Enchilada Sauce
Enchilada sauce is made up of a variety of ingredients that work together to create its unique flavor. The most common ingredients used in red enchilada sauce include ancho, pasilla, and New Mexico chilies, onion, garlic, tomatoes, broth, cumin, and oregano. These ingredients are blended together and simmered until thickened. The result is a complex and layered flavor that can enliven any dish it’s added to.
Ancho chiles are mild and fruity dried chili pods that are often used in red enchilada sauce. They are known for their wide shape and earthy flavor. Pasilla chiles are also mild and fruity, with a wrinkled texture and a raisin-like fragrance. These two types of chilies are usually combined with other ingredients like onion, garlic, and tomatoes to create the base of the sauce.
In addition to the chilies and vegetables, broth is also added to the sauce to give it a rich and savory flavor. Beef broth is commonly used but vegetable or chicken broth can be substituted as well. Dry spices like cumin, oregano, chili powder, salt, and pepper are also added to the sauce to enhance its flavor.
To thicken the sauce, flour is often used but for a gluten-free option, cornstarch can be substituted. Finally, oil is added to the pan to heat before whisking in the flour and chili powder until lightly browned. Then chicken broth and tomato sauce are whisked in along with the other dry spices. The mixture is then simmered for about 10 minutes until thickened.
Homemade Vs. Store-Bought Enchilada Sauce: Which Is Right For You?
When it comes to enchilada sauce, there is a debate over whether homemade or store-bought is the better option. While store-bought sauces are convenient and readily available, homemade sauces offer a unique and customizable flavor that cannot be found in a jar.
One advantage of homemade enchilada sauce is the ability to control the ingredients. Store-bought sauces may contain preservatives, additives, or high amounts of sodium. Homemade sauces can be made with fresh, whole ingredients and can be tailored to your dietary needs or preferences.
Another advantage of homemade enchilada sauce is the ability to customize the flavor. By experimenting with different types of chilies and spices, you can create a sauce that perfectly suits your taste buds. Homemade sauces also allow for more creativity in the kitchen, as they can be used in a variety of dishes beyond just enchiladas.
However, making homemade enchilada sauce can be time-consuming and may require special equipment such as a blender or food processor. Store-bought sauces are also more consistent in flavor, as they are made in large batches and adhere to specific recipes.
Ultimately, the decision between homemade and store-bought enchilada sauce comes down to personal preference and priorities. If you value convenience and consistency, store-bought may be the way to go. But if you enjoy experimenting with flavors and want a healthier option, homemade is worth the effort.
Pairing Enchilada Sauce With Different Dishes
When it comes to pairing enchilada sauce with different dishes, it’s important to consider the main ingredients in your meal. For example, red enchilada sauce pairs well with ground beef enchiladas, while green enchilada sauce is a great match for chicken enchiladas. However, these are just general guidelines and ultimately, it comes down to personal preference.
If you’re making vegetarian enchiladas, both red and green enchilada sauces work well. For a heartier vegetarian option, consider using black beans or sweet potatoes as the filling and pairing it with a red enchilada sauce.
If you’re looking for a spicier option, try pairing your enchiladas with a spicy red enchilada sauce. This can be achieved by using hotter chili peppers or adding more chili powder to the sauce.
Enchilada sauce can also be used in other Mexican-inspired dishes like burritos, casseroles, and soups. Use red enchilada sauce in a beef and bean burrito or green enchilada sauce in a chicken and rice casserole.