Yield: 1 cup (250 milliliters), enough for 4 main course servings
This is the simplest of all chile sauces, and it allows the flavor of the chiles to come through unaltered by other ingredients such as onions or garlic (or in the case of molé, chocolate) that usually enter into classic Mexican chile sauces. Not only are these sauces delicious, but because each chile will give its own identity to the sauce, they provide an excellent training ground for cooks wanting to familiarize themselves with the nuances of individual dried chiles. This sauce requires little reduction because, surprisingly, the chiles act as thickeners.
2 large dried chiles such as
anchos, guajillos, mulatos, pasillas,
pasillas de Oaxaca, or chihuacle negros
1 cup (250 milliliters) heavy cream
Red pepper (cayenne, optional)
Cut the stems off the chiles, cut the chiles in half lengthwise, and shake out their seeds. Toss the chiles in a hot skillet for a minute or two until they smell fragrant. Put the chiles in a bowl and add enough boiling water to barely cover. Soak the chiles for about 30 minutes, until they feel soft and leathery. Drain and discard the soaking liquid. Chop the chiles very fine, until they have a pastelike consistency, and combine them with the cream in a small saucepan.
Bring the cream to a slow simmer over medium heat, while whisking. Take the pan off the stove and let it sit for 5 minutes to give the flavor of the chiles time to infuse. Put the pan back on medium heat and simmer, while whisking, for 30 seconds to 2 minutes, until the sauce has the consistency you like. Season to taste with salt.
Classical and Contemporary Sauce Making
By James Peterson
John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1998
Hardback, $ 44.95
Recipe reprinted by permission.
This page created December 2001
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