This has become my go-to winter salsa/sauce right now while tomatoes aren’t in season. I posted this the other day alongside black bean soup, but I wanted to elaborate and show the actual steps. I’d always been a bit intimidated by dried chiles, but I’ve come to realize that they’re actually very easy to work with… (mostly thanks to watching many episodes of Rick Bayless’s, Mexico One Plate at a Time). Rick made it look easy, and well, it is. So here goes:
This isn’t the kind of “salsa” you necessarily want to dunk chips in… it’s not actually very spicy, but it has a rich bold flavor. It’s meant to be put on things rather than used as a dip. A little bit goes a long way, and it would be a great condiment to incorporate (for example) into some of these meals:
- 8 dried guajillo chiles (or mix of guajillo and ancho chiles)
- 2 cloves garlic
- water, to soak
- ½ cup fire roasted tomatoes (canned is fine)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- a few teaspoons honey, agave syrup, or cane sugar
- Use a pair of scissors to cut the stem off the chile. Cut it open lengthwise and remove the seeds.
- Heat a cast iron skillet and place the garlic cloves (in their paper) near the edge. Press the chiles so they lay flat into the skillet. Working in batches, toast for 30 seconds or less per side. (Let the garlic continue to roast while you finish toasting the chiles).
- Place toasted chiles into a large bowl and fill with warm water. Let them soak for about 30 minutes, rotating them occasionally.
- Using a pair of tongs, remove the chiles and place into a blender with the (peeled) garlic, tomatoes, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, a bit of honey and a few pinches of salt. Blend until smooth.
- Heat a saucepan over medium heat, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the chile sauce from the blender and simmer for a minute or two. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more honey (or sugar) to cut down any bitterness.
Don't be tempted to use the soaking water for blending - we tried it and it adds too much bitterness.
If you want a lighter, brighter flavored sauce, add more tomatoes.
adapted from Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen