A gift of New Mexico Dried Chilis

How lucky can one couple be?    The day after we both returned to work from the holiday vacation (that included our trip to Santa Fe for Christmas), my husband came home wagging a one pound bag of dried peppers from New Mexico.   I was ecstatic!    The “Spirit of Return to Santa Fe for Christmas Future” is definitely sending us signs.

These peppers came from Sweet Freedom Farms.   One of hubby’s co-workers had received two bags for Christmas and graciously sent one our way.   I had actually ordered some dried guajillo peppers from them a couple of years ago.   They were so nice; they threw in some dried Mexican oregano for free!

What could I do with all these dried peppers?

I immediately began searching for recipes and my mind started racing.

There is a great restaurant in downtown Tulsa, Elote.    Elote is all about fresh and local and it shows in their food.   They have the best Veggie Burrito (black beans, sweet potatoes, spinach, caramelized onions, and cheese in a whole wheat or flour tortilla topped with white queso).    I decided to take that burrito for inspiration, cross it with a spinach enchilada recipe I had, top it with homemade red chili sauce and see what in the world I came up with!  (And if you go to Elote’s website, make sure you check out the luchadore section! 🙂 )

I took the chili sauce recipe almost verbatim from the Sweet Freedom Farms recipe for Basic Red Chile.    There they state that:

This sauce is used in many different New Mexican/Mexican recipes, and can also be used over, under, and between anything else. Red chili is especially good with pork dishes.

One pound is a lot of dried chilies.

Make the chili sauce first.

Basic Red Chili Sauce

12 dried, red New Mexico chile pods, of the desired heat level
4 c. water
1/2 t.  sea salt
2 or more cloves of garlic
1/2 t.. Mexican oregano
2 T.  olive oil
2 T.  flour

Remove stems and seeds from chilies and rinse the pods.

Rinse well as you de-seed.

Soak the pods in warmish water for about 3 minutes or until soft, then rinse again removing any remaining seeds and veins.

Rinse while you check for more seeds and de-vein. Use a small paring knife to help remove any membranes.

Put the chile pods into a saucepan, and cover with the 4 cups of water.  Bring to a boil, cover, and let simmer for about 20 minutes.

Remove pods to a blender or food processor, along with 2 cups of the cooking water.  Add the salt, garlic and oregano, and process the chilies until smooth.

I found it impossible to whisk and take a pic; therefore, my whisk is laying at the bottom of the skillet.

Heat oil in a skillet on medium heat.  Add the flour and whisk to make a roux.  Remove from heat and add the blended chilies to the roux, stirring well, and making sure any lumps dissolve.

Getting thick and bubbly.

Return to the heat and combine the remaining cooking  liquid, slowly, into the chili, to achieve a tomato sauce kind of consistency. Simmer for around 10 minutes.  (Don’t worry.   If you have lumps, place everything back in the blender.)

More water can be added for a thinner consistency, or for thicker sauce, use less water.

Veggie Enchiladas with Homemade Red Chili Sauce

2 T. olive oil
1 medium Vidalia onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic minced
1 T. brown sugar
1 small sweet potato, diced in 1 ” cubes
1/8 to 1/4 t. chili powder
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 pkg. “1/3 less fat” cream cheese
1 packed cup baby spinach leaves
Red Chili Sauce (See recipe above.)
8 corn or flour tortillas
1/2 c. Monterey-Jack Cheese, shredded

Heat olive oil in skillet and saute onions for 5 minutes.    Add garlic and brown sugar, stir in well, and saute for another 5 minutes.  Onion mixture should be nice and golden.   Set aside.

The brown sugar just helps the onions caramelize.

Place sweet potato cubes in a microwavable covered bowl.   Microwave for 4-5 minutes until done.   Toss potatoes with the chili powder.   Set aside.

This would also make a great side dish by itself.

In a food processor, combine drained black beans and cream cheese.    Process until smooth.   Set aside.

This would also make a nice meal. Seriously, just grab a spoon! (If you have any left over, use it as a dip.)

Chop spinach slightly.   Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Assemble enchiladas:

These are the best corn tortillas!

Heat tortillas in microwave for about 20 seconds so they are pliable.   Place one cup of chili sauce in the bottom of baking pan.   Take one tortilla, spread the bean mixture down the center, top with onions, a few sweet potato cubes and spinach.

I like to add raw spinach on top here. You may cook yours if you like.

Roll up and place in baking pan.   Continue until all tortillas are used.   Cover with sauce and top with cheese.

Cover with the rest of the red sauce.

Place in oven and bake until bubbly and cheese is melted, about 40 minutes.

Veggie enchiladas in my new favorite baking dish!

The peppers that we received were HOT, but the sauce came out really good with just enough back heat.   The enchiladas were good but there was just something missing.   Next time,  I will add more caramelized onions  as well as some cilantro to the roll up.

Ahhh, New Mexico….what will be our next sign to return?

And remember, if you need a smile today, don’t forget to check out the luchadore section of Elote’s site.   HILARIOUS!


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