Enchiladas are a beloved Mexican dish that has gained popularity all over the world. One of the key components of this delicious dish is the enchilada sauce.
But have you ever wondered what exactly goes into making this flavorful sauce?
In this article, we will explore the ingredients that make up enchilada sauce and how to make it at home. Whether you’re a seasoned cook or a beginner in the kitchen, this article will provide you with all the information you need to create a delicious and authentic enchilada sauce that will take your dishes to the next level.
So, let’s dive in and discover what makes up this mouth-watering sauce!
What Is Enchilada Sauce Made Of?
Enchilada sauce is a rich and flavorful sauce that is made up of a combination of ingredients. The main components of this sauce include chili peppers, onion, garlic, tomatoes, broth, cumin, oregano, and sometimes cinnamon. These ingredients are blended together and then simmered until the sauce thickens.
The type of chili peppers used in the sauce can vary depending on the recipe. Red enchilada sauce is typically made with ancho, pasilla, New Mexico, and/or Cascabel chiles. Green enchilada sauce, on the other hand, is made with green chiles, tomatillos, and sometimes jalapeños.
To thicken the sauce, a roux is typically made using oil and flour. This helps to give the sauce a smooth and creamy texture. Other seasonings like garlic powder, ground cumin, and dried oregano are also added to enhance the flavor of the sauce.
The History Of Enchilada Sauce
The history of enchilada sauce dates back to the Mayan civilization, where chili peppers were used in many of their dishes. When the Spanish conquistadors arrived, they were introduced to the Mayan dish of enchiladas, which consisted of a corn tortilla dipped in chili sauce. Over time, the sauce evolved and became more complex, incorporating additional ingredients like onions, garlic, and tomatoes.
In the 19th century, canned chili sauce became popular in the United States and was used as a shortcut for making homemade enchilada sauce. However, this canned sauce lacked the depth of flavor found in traditional homemade sauces.
Today, enchilada sauce is typically made from scratch using fresh ingredients. The sauce is an essential component of the enchilada dish and adds a rich and bold flavor to the meal. Its history is deeply rooted in Mexican cuisine and has evolved over time to become the delicious sauce we know today.
Traditional Ingredients Used In Enchilada Sauce
Enchilada sauce has been a staple in Mexican cuisine for centuries, and traditional recipes often call for a combination of dried chili peppers, onion, garlic, and tomatoes. Ancho, pasilla, and New Mexico chiles are some of the most commonly used chili peppers in traditional red enchilada sauce. These chiles have a mild to medium heat level and a fruity flavor that adds depth to the sauce.
Onion and garlic are also key ingredients in enchilada sauce. They add a savory flavor to the sauce and help to balance out the heat from the chili peppers. Tomatoes are another important ingredient that give the sauce its signature red color and add a slightly sweet and tangy flavor.
To enhance the flavor of the sauce, spices like cumin and oregano are often added. Cumin has a warm, earthy flavor that pairs well with the other ingredients in the sauce, while oregano adds a slightly floral and herbaceous note.
To thicken the sauce, a roux is typically made using oil and flour. This helps to give the sauce a smooth and creamy texture. Some recipes also call for cinnamon, which adds a subtle sweetness to the sauce.
Variations Of Enchilada Sauce From Different Regions
Enchilada sauce can vary from region to region in terms of the ingredients used and the level of spice. In Northern Mexico, for example, enchilada sauce is typically made with a combination of ancho and guajillo chiles, while in Southern Mexico, the sauce is made with a combination of pasilla and ancho chiles.
In New Mexico, enchilada sauce is made with dried red chiles, garlic, cumin, and oregano. The sauce is usually thicker than other versions and has a smoky flavor. In Texas, enchilada sauce is often made with chili powder, cumin, and tomato sauce.
In California, enchilada sauce is typically made with dried California chiles, which are mild and fruity in flavor. The sauce is usually thicker than other versions and is often used as a marinade for meats.
In Arizona, enchilada sauce is often made with a combination of ancho and guajillo chiles, as well as tomatoes and onions. The sauce is usually thinner than other versions and has a tangy flavor.
How To Make Enchilada Sauce From Scratch
Making enchilada sauce from scratch is a great way to elevate the flavor of your dishes. Here are some important steps to follow:
1. Use whole dried peppers: To make the best enchilada sauce, it is important to use whole dried peppers instead of ground chili powder. Whole dried peppers, when roasted and reconstituted, will give you a richer and more complex flavor.
2. Toast the dried peppers: Toasting the dried peppers before reconstituting them can enhance their flavor. However, be careful not to scorch the peppers as it can make the sauce bitter.
3. Use fresh garlic and onion: Fresh garlic and onion are essential for optimal flavor. Roast them along with the peppers for even more depth.
4. Skip the flour: Flour is sometimes used to thicken enchilada sauce, but it is not necessary if you use whole dried peppers. The pureed peppers will naturally thicken the sauce.
5. Cook the sauce: After pureeing and straining the sauce, cook it to bring out its full depth of flavor. This will also help to darken the color of the sauce.
To make the enchilada sauce, heat oil in a pan and whisk in flour and chili powder until lightly browned. Next, whisk in chicken broth and tomato sauce. Ground cumin, garlic powder, onion salt, and salt are mixed in too. Simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes until thickened.
Tips For Storing And Using Enchilada Sauce In Your Cooking.
Once you have made your enchilada sauce, there are a few tips to keep in mind for storing and using it in your cooking.
Firstly, leftover enchilada sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. If you want to keep it for longer, it can be frozen for up to 3 months. To freeze the sauce, let it cool to room temperature before transferring it to a wide-mouth mason jar or a freezer bag. Leave some room at the top for expansion and make sure to remove excess air before sealing.
If you need to make the enchilada sauce gluten-free, you can use a gluten-free all-purpose flour blend. Bob’s Red Mill brand is a good option. For those who want to make the sauce tomato-free, simply omit the tomato paste and adjust the spices accordingly.
When using the enchilada sauce in your cooking, it is important to ensure that it has a good consistency, about that of cream, and has some nice kick. If you find that the sauce is too thick, you can thin it out with a little bit of water or broth.
Enchilada sauce is not just for enchiladas – it can also be used in soups, chilies, skillet dinners, burritos, and more. It is also customizable – you can make it thicker or thinner and adjust the level of spiciness to your liking.
By following these tips for storing and using enchilada sauce in your cooking, you can ensure that your dishes are bursting with flavor and authenticity.