Mike’s New Mexican Red Enchilada Sauce

Mike's New Mexican Red Enchilada Sauce | Culinary Compost Recipes
This is my version of a classic, authentic New Mexican red sauce, which is properly served over made-from-scratch enchiladas, huevos rancheros or basted over braised chicken and beef. You can also prepare this recipe using green New Mexican chile powder. The reason why I like preparing this sauce using ground chile pepper vs. whole chile is that you eliminate the time spent straining the blender puree from the tough, and sometimes bitter pods. You’ll also get a more consistent, velvety-smooth sauce.

Amazing! Enjoy~



1/4 cup pure, mild NM Hatch ground red chili powder
2 tbs. XV olive oil
1 tbs. flour
1 tbs. rendered bacon fat (optional)
2 oz. ground chorizo sausage (optional, as an alternate to bacon fat)
4 cloves roasted garlic, minced
1/2 small white onion, minced
1/2 tsp. ground dry Mexican oregano
1 tsp. ground cumin, from toasted seeds
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
2 cups beef broth
Salt to taste, about 1/4 to 1/2 tsp.
Crushed chiltepin or ground cayenne pepper, to taste



Using a heavy saucepan (preferably cast-iron) over medium heat, bring the olive oil up to temperature until shimmering. Add the garlic and onion and sauté for five minutes until tender, stirring constantly. Be careful so it doesn’t scorch.

Next, add the flour and continue stirring to form a roux. Add the bacon fat or chorizo if desired. When the roux turns a medium brown color (about fifteen minutes) add the chile powder and the rest of the ingredients. Bring up to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for about a half hour until the liquid has reduced by half. Whisk to break up the lumps. Stir often. Don’t thicken it too much — the consistency should be similar to melted ice cream.  It will continue to reduce when used in recipes that require baking.

Makes a little over one cup.


Mike’s Helpful Tip:
Buy the best Hatch chile powder you can find. It must be pure and not cut with other ingredients. Control the heat of the sauce using crushed chiltepin or cayenne pepper. Always opt for a milder chile powder — you can always kick up the heat later, but you can never take it back.

The Lodge 2-quart cast-iron serving pot (shown below) is ideal for this recipe. It assures even heating without the risk of scorching the roux.

Note: Culinary Compost never endorses products for profit, and has received no monetary compensation for the content of this post.

Mike's New Mexican Red Enchilada Sauce | Culinary Compost Recipes

Mike’s Kachina Canyon Stew

Mike’s Kachina Canyon Stew | Culinary Compost

I’ve fiddled with the ingredients and preparation for this original southwest recipe over the course of six months. I’ve got it down to a science. This stew, made with hot Mexican Chorizo or Longaniza sausage, is satisfying and fairly spicy, with an incredible depth of flavor. The small amount of rendered fat from the sausage creates a really rich base for the broth. Enjoy with cornbread, a side of tortillas cooked on a griddle, chopped cilantro, scallion and a spoonful of sour cream.


2 tbs. XV olive oil
8 oz. bulk spicy ground Chorizo or Longaniza sausage
1 small onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, with greens if possible, trimmed and fine chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
1/2 sweet red bell pepper, diced
2 small “new” red potatoes, scrubbed well and diced with skins on
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 cups chicken stock
Juice from 1/4 fresh lime
1 cup frozen kernel corn
1 fired and peeled fresh poblano – diced, or one 4 oz. can chopped green chili
1 15.8 oz. can great northern or pinto beans, rinsed
2 dry bay leaves
Salt (about 1/2 tsp., to taste)
1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
6 dried chiltepin peppers, crushed (optional, for heat)
1 tsp. whole cumin seed, toasted and ground in a mortar
1 tsp. dry Mexican oregano leaf
1/4 cup washed and trimmed cilantro leaves, fine chopped

Sour cream – 1 tbs. per bowl, optional
Scallion, thin-sliced as a garnish, optional
Tortillas, browned on a comal (griddle) with olive oil, and then cut into 1″ x 3″ strips



In a heavy 3.5 quart cast-iron or enameled cast-iron soup pot, heat 1 tbs. of olive oil until shimmering and brown the chorizo sausage over medium heat. Remove from the pot and place on paper towel to drain off the fat.

Next, add 1 tbs. olive oil, the onion, celery, and garlic and saute until the onion is semi-translucent, but not carmelized, over medium-low heat. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Add the chorizo sausage back to the pot. Add the diced tomatoes and chicken stock and bring up to a low boil. Reduce heat and simmer.

Add the kernel corn, chopped red bell pepper, lime juice, carrot, the diced poblano or small can of green chili, the Mexican oregano, cumin and black pepper. Add the bay leaves. *Salt to taste. Simmer partially covered for about 20-30 minutes. Add the potato and simmer for 20 more minutes or until tender. Rinse the beans in a colander with hot water and drain well.  Add the beans to the pot and simmer for 15 minutes over low heat until heated through. Add the cilantro, shut off the heat, let stand for five minutes and serve with sour cream, scallion and browned tortillas.

*Go easy on the salt — the sausage and canned beans are loaded with it. I would not add any until you taste, and then correct the seasoning if needed.

Serves 4-6

Note: this recipe can be doubled easily with the same results.

Roasting poblano peppers with a propane torch | Culinary Compost

Roasting poblano peppers with a propane torch. The tough outer skin is unpalatable and should be removed before baking.

Smokin’ Chipotle Salsa

The area around Santa Fe has a magical aura to it. It is timeless and beautiful. If I had a chance to live there, I couldn’t think of a better salsa to serve up for party guests.


3 fresh large red tomatoes (8-10 Romas)
1 small spanish onion – minced
2 jalapeño peppers
1 tsp. chipotle powder (see preparation method below)
2 large cloves fresh minced garlic (a clove is 1 section of the whole bulb)
2-3 tbs. minced fresh cilantro
juice of 1/8 cut lime
1/2 tbs. salt
2 drops Hickory liquid smoke


Roma or Beefmaster tomatoes are preferred.

Fine chop the tomatoes and place in bowl. A food processor is ideal if you use restraint and don’t puree them into oblivion. Add the fine chopped peppers and spices. Go easy on the salt and use the liquid smoke with caution as it can quickly overpower the dish. Taste often (this is a good thing), keeping in mind that the ingredients will blend together over time—so do not overcompensate. Generally, the mix will become hotter if left to stand a bit.

Stir ingredients well and let stand for 1/2 hour. If the water content of the tomatoes separates out in the bowl after a while, drain the salsa by placing it in a fine screen basket or colander and then place back into bowl. This is normal. The water content will vary with different types of tomatoes. Romas on average have the lowest water content ratio.

Salsa best if used within two days. If you must put it in the fridge after use, let it warm up to room temperature again before serving.

—my original recipe

Chipotle Powder
Chipotles (smoked jalapeños over a pecan-wood fire) are sold either dried as whole pods, dried and ground, or canned. With the increasing popularity of chipotle as a cooking spice, retailers have raised prices dramatically over the past few years. One pound of dried and ground chipotle powder currently goes for about $16 street price! Helpful tip—save yourself the money and grind your own by purchasing smaller amounts. They can commonly be found in most mexican markets or specialty supermarkets.

Here’s how:
Purchase a small bag of whole chipotle pods at a mexican market. Each bag usually is pre-packaged with about 10 pods and weighs about 3.5 ounces. The cost is about $2.59.

Using a small electric coffee or spice grinder and a sharp butcher knife, cut the pods into small sections and remove the stems. Then throw them in the grinder and pulverize them into a fine powder. One bag of pods should make you enough chipotle powder for at least a year—unless you’re a chili head like I am. Store the powder in an airtight container. I wash and reuse my empty Chinese hot mustard jars as they are virtually the same size as most spice jars and have a really nice lid.

Chipotle powder also works great as a rub for marinades with chicken, steak or fish.

Chimayo Salsa

People that have tried this recipe have said “Wow, I didn’t know this was supposed to be like salsa… It tastes like the ingredients in chili.” They’re right. And here’s why: This recipe is similar to mole recipes found in Mexico. It is made with dried chili pods that you can easily store in your freezer for an extended period of time. Chimayo chili peppers are widely used for cooking and can range from mild to very hot. They are dried and packaged whole, or ground into a powder and sold commercially as pure chili powder.

In towns scattered across New Mexico, you will find them drying on the terra cotta rooftops during harvest season. Many are made into chili ristras and hung as a decoration or food source. This colorful salsa is also traditionally served during the Christmas season and is very popular in the Southwest.


10 large, dried New Mexican Chimayo pepper pods, stems removed
1 tbs. mexican oregano
4 large garlic cloves—with husks
1 tsp. salt (to taste)
2 ripe garden tomatoes, fine chopped*



Heat a large, dry cast-iron skillet to medium and place the dried chimayos on one layer in the skillet. Heat the chilis lightly and turn a few times for about five minutes, being careful not to scorch them—or they will taste bitter. Remove from the skillet and place in a blender with hot water to cover them. Let stand for 20 minutes to rehydrate them.

Drain the chilis of water and reserve about a half cup water remaining in the blender.

Place the garlic cloves with husks in the skillet and roast on medium for about 7-10 minutes. When they slightly blacken and give off that wonderful aroma, remove and squeeze the clove out of the husk. They should come out freely after slicing the hard tip off of each clove. Add the garlic cloves to the blender.

Add the salt, and Mexican oregano.

Puree on high until smooth. Remove and add the tomatoes.* Stir well and serve immediately with good-quality corn chips. Now would be a nice time to serve the blue chips you’ve been saving for that special occasion.

Enjoy—this is as authentic as it gets.

Taos Tortilla Soup

A regional southwest favorite that never fails to satisfy.


8 corn tortillas
1/4 cup corn oil
1 tbs. butter
1/2 medium Spanish onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, mashed
4 oz. Hatch green chili, chopped
4 cups chicken stock
1 28 oz. can tomatoes
1 tbs. chopped washed cilantro leaves
1 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
1 tsp. salt
1 cup cooked, shredded chicken
8 oz. grated Monterey Jack cheese


Cut the corn tortillas into strips and leave out to dry overnight.

Heat the corn oil in a large cast-iron skillet. Fry the tortilla strips until golden brown, and drain on a paper towel.

Next, heat the butter in the skillet and saute the onion and garlic. Heat a cast-iron dutch oven to medium and add the chicken stock, tomatoes, garlic and onion. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the cilantro, oregano and salt. Add the shredded chicken and warm through on a low simmer for about 10 minutes.

Serve over the tortilla strips in bowls. Top with the Jack cheese.

Serves 4.

Tucumcari Torpedos (Southwest Burritos)

Southwest Beef and Black Bean Burritos | Culinary Compost Recipes

In my travels along I-40 in northeast New Mexico, I pulled into a Tucumcari truckstop diner that hawked three-dollar pitchers of Coors and burritos the size of bank deposit canisters. My brother-in-law and I each ordered “the combo.” After ten minutes my eyesight wavered and somewhere between the dusty haze on the road outside the window and the heat from the burrito, I entered a different plane of existence. The top of my head started sweating uncontrollably, and after a desperate wave with a white napkin announcing unconditional surrender, our waitress promptly stopped by and announced with a hearty laugh that they were medium-spicy.  I love hot food and hell, I could barely finish it. I can’t imagine what-in-the-Bejezus their HOT version was like.

This was my first experience with authentic southwest roadside fare, and at that point, I realized I’d gotten my ass kicked.

Here is my [edible] tribute to that burrito. Use the cayenne to control the amount of heat. The beef in this recipe is slow-cooked in the oven to perfection. Finish them off in a baking dish with melted cheese on top. You can also use your slow cooker to braise the beef if you don’t have a dutch oven.



1-1/4 to 1-1/2 lbs. beef stew meat
2 tbs. olive oil
1 tbs. paprika
1 tsp. salt
2 tbs. mild Chimayo chili powder
2 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
1 tsp. coriander
2 tsp. cumin, ground from toasted seed
1 tsp. Mexican oregano
2 bay leaves
2 cups beef stock
2 medium Spanish onions
3 cloves garlic, mashed

1 15.4-oz. can black or pinto beans – rinsed (optional)
Large tortilla shells
Shredded Monterey Jack or Cotija cheese
Mike’s NM Red Enchilada Sauce
Mike’s Famous Guacamole
Mike’s Fresh Tomatillo Salsa Verde



Brown the stew meat in a skillet with a small amount of olive oil. Transfer to dutch oven. Add dry spices, bay leaves and beef stock. Keep covered on low heat.

Saute the onion and garlic, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add to the dutch oven and mix well. Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. Slow cook the beef in the oven, covered for 4 hours. Shred the beef with a wooden spatula or two forks when tender. Simmer uncovered over medium heat to reduce the liquid. Add the rinsed beans to the pot during the last 1/2 hour.

Coat a 9 x 13″ baking dish with cooking spray. Brush 4-6 tortilla shells lightly with olive oil on one side. Remove the bay leaves from the pot. Load up the shells with the meat and some jack cheese. Wrap and place tightly in bottom of dish (olive oil side out) and top with more cheese, scallion and a small amount of salsa. Bake in oven covered for an additional 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees, or until cheese is melted and the tortillas crisp up.

Serve with guacamole, salsa….

Serves 4-6.

Southwest Beef and Black Bean Burritos | Culinary Compost Recipes

Browning the stew beef in olive oil.

Southwest Beef and Black Bean Burritos | Culinary Compost Recipes

The meat and bay leaves shown after a 4-hour braise at 250°-F.

Southwest Beef and Black Bean Burritos | Culinary Compost Recipes

Rendering down the broth and adding the black beans.

Southwest Beef and Black Bean Burritos | Culinary Compost Recipes

Rolled in tortillas, then topped with shredded cheese and scallion.

Roasted Pork in Red Chili Sauce

A delicious alternative to beef or chicken tacos. The pork shoulder will give you a richer flavor but the loin roast is leaner and more tender. Buy whichever is on sale. The sauce can be made ahead of time and refrigerated overnight. Like many dishes, it only gets better when re-served the next day.



3 to 4 lbs. boneless pork roast (loin or shoulder)
1 tbs. Adobo seasoning
3 tbs. corn oil
1/3 cup chili powder
1/4 cup flour
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. granulated garlic
1/2 tsp. Mexican oregano, crushed
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
2 cups water
2 dried Guajillo peppers
1 tbs. lime juice (optional)

Tortillas, Spanish rice


Coat the pork roast with the Adobo Seasoning and roast for about 20 minutes per pound until the internal temperature reaches at least 140 degrees, but not more than 150 degrees. Allow the roast to rest and cool for 15 minutes. Trim excess fat if necessary. Cut the roast into bite-sized cubes.

While the pork is roasting, prepare the sauce. Soak two Guajillo peppers in water until soft, about 20 minutes. Remove the stem and seeds from each. Finely mince the peppers and set aside.

Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Stir in the chili powder, spices, salt and flour. Gradually whisk in two cups of water. Bring to a boil, while stirring constantly. Add the minced Guajillo peppers. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the pork and simmer covered for at least 30 minutes (up to two hours), stirring occasionally. If you are using pork loin, the meat will be tender immediately. The pork shoulder will require longer cooking time, but it could be ready after an hour of simmering.

If desired, gently mash the pork with a potato masher or two forks. Stir in the lime juice just before serving. Serve with tortillas and Spanish rice.

Makes about 12 servings.

Prep time, 15 minutes. Cooking time: 2-4 hours.