As I organized the pantry shelves in my new kitchen, grouping all of the tomato-related products together -- canned chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, Ro*Tel -- I realized I didn't have any cans of enchilada sauce, which is pretty much a fixture in my perfect pantry (and which isn't usually made with tomato, but that's where I'd look for it). However, I did discover a bunch of ingredients I thought would make a perfect, if not perfectly traditional, sauce for enchiladas, and I tossed them a pot. The result was this rich sauce with just a hint of cilantro from a jar of storebought sofrito (you'll find it in the Latino foods aisle). Depending on the filling I use in my enchiladas, I might stir in a teaspoon of adobo sauce (from a can of chipotle peppers with adobo), to add some smokiness to the sauce. If you like your enchilada sauce thinner, just add a few teaspoons of water. I prefer mine with a bit of body. It's an easy recipe to double, and you'll want to stash some sauce in the freezer for burritos, flautas, soup, beans, pasta, meatloaf, or just about any type of enchilada you can dream up. A jar of homemade enchilada sauce makes a great hostess gift, too.
Crazy mixed-up red enchilada sauce
From the pantry, you'll need: canned diced tomato, onion, ground cumin, chili powder, garlic, chicken stock, all-purpose unbleached flour (or gluten-free flour).
Makes 5 cups, enough for 2 pans of enchiladas; can be multiplied.
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 Tbsp all-purpose unbleached flour
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1-1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
12 oz red sofrito, storebought (make sure the brand you buy is all-natural) or homemade
14.5-oz can petite diced tomato
1 cup chicken stock, storebought low-sodium or homemade
In a Dutch oven or a 4-quart saucepan with straight sides, combine the vegetable oil and flour. Cook over low heat for 3-4 minutes, until the mixture bubbles and thickens (to make a roux). When you can drag a wooden spoon through it and the line remains for a second or two, the roux is cooked.
Raise the heat to medium-low. Add the onion and garlic, stir, and cook for 1-2 minutes, until the onion is translucent.
Then add the chili powder and cumin, and stir for 1 minute to cook the spices.
Pour in the sofrito, tomato and chicken stock. As you bring the sauce to a simmer, it will thicken slightly. Cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
Remove the pot from heat, and pureé until smooth with an immersion blender. Or, let the sauce cool slightly, and pureé in a standing blender.
Use immediately, or let cool and refrigerate or freeze in airtight containers.
More ways to use homemade enchilada sauce:
Smoky pumpkin and brown rice enchiladas, from The Perfect Pantry
Buffalo chicken enchiladas, from She Wears Many Hats
Easy beef enchiladas, from Recipe Girl
Chicken enchiladas, from The Pioneer Woman Cooks
Roasted vegetable enchiladas, from Gimme Some Oven
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