the appetizer:

Rosa's New Mexican Table by Roberto Santibañez includes favorite recipes from the restaurant's menu like Soupy Black Beans, Poblanos Stuffed with Spinach and Goat Cheese (and Ranchera Sauce), and Slow-Braised Boneless Short Ribs with Roasted Tomatillo-Chipotle Sauce.

Cookbook Profile

Ranchera Sauce

Salsa Ranchera

Makes 4 cups


It's no wonder that we Mexicans make phenomenal tomato sauce. We gave the rest of the world tomatoes and taught them how to turn them into sauces, like this simple cinnamon-and-garlic-scented version that is another pillar of the Mexican kitchen. It has many, many uses, both on its own—spooned over eggs in the morning is one—and as the base for other dishes, such as the Beef Enchiladas. And why not make a potful of this instead of your usual tomato sauce next time spaghetti and meatballs are on the menu?

Terrible things are sometimes done in the name of salsa ranchera, like starting with raw tomatoes and blending them, skins and all, instead of beginning with peeled slowly roasted ripe tomatoes. The cinnamon stick is not traditional, but we always did it this way at home, and I still like it. It's not unusual to find cinnamon-seasoned sauces in some of the central Mexican states.

Working in batches if necessary, combine the tomatoes, chiles, and garlic in a blender and blend until smooth. Center the cinnamon stick on a 6-inch square of cheesecloth and tie the corners of the square together to make a neat bundle. (Mexican cinnamon will fall apart during cooking and the pieces can be difficult to remove from the finished dish. Wrapping the cinnamon in cheesecloth makes it easy to remove it all after cooking.)

Heat the vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the pureed tomato mixture and bring to a boil. Stir in the salt, sugar, and cinnamon bundle. Adjust the heat so the sauce is simmering. Cook until lightly thickened (just enough to coat a spoon), about 30 minutes. If the sauce thickens too much before that time, lower the heat slightly and add water, a tablespoon or two at a time.

Remove the sauce from the heat and check the seasonings, adding more salt and sugar if you like. The sauce can be made up to 3 days in advance. Let cool, then cover and refrigerate. Reheat over low heat, adding water 1 tablespoon at a time if necessary to return the sauce to the right consistency.


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This page created June 2007