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

Thai Panang Curry Beef

Thai Panang Beef | Culinary Compost Recipes

Panang (Phanaeng) curry beef is one of my favorite Thai dishes. A local restaurant makes it very hot at my request; although traditionally, it is not as spicy as red Thai curry. Regarding the preparation, it may seem counter-intuitive to drop the raw meat in the sauce and simmer it, instead of flash-frying it first, but this is the authentic way to prepare it. Either method works well.

This recipe, like many from Thailand, doesn’t require intense heat for cooking, so you can use any commercially-made wok on a kitchen stovetop, with great results. I prefer to use a 14-pound Lodge cast-iron wok on my charcoal grill, but a ceramic glass stovetop works just as well. The wok heats very evenly, and provides a lot of surface area to work with. It is one of my favorite kitchen tools. You can also use a deep, heavy skillet.

The dish is traditionally served without vegetables, but I gotta have some color working with that spicy mojo, so I always add red pepper and a contrasting green vegetable like pea-pods or green beans. Thinly-sliced serrano or Thai chilies also work well. The addition of crushed peanuts to the sauce is very traditional, influenced by Indian cuisine. You may omit them if you choose. An excellent source regarding the history of this dish can be found here. Miranti knows her stuff!

Control the heat by the amount of curry and cayenne you add. The preparation is very quick, so have everything ready and accessible before you start.

Here’s my version – Enjoy!



1 lb. Angus flank or prime tenderloin steak, cut against the grain at a bias in 1/4″ thin strips
1 can coconut milk
1/2 cup beef broth
4 tbs. Panang or red curry paste (the red curry is more spicy)
3 tbs. fish sauce, to taste
2-3 tbs. dark brown sugar, to taste
1 red bell or hot red chili, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
A handful of fresh pea-pods or green beans
1 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
Ground cayenne or Thai birds-eye chili pepper, to taste
dash of lime juice, about two tbs.
1/2 cup crushed peanuts
Cooked Thai jasmine rice



Hit both sides of the beef filet with a needle tenderizer. Slice into 1/4″ strips against the grain and trim away the excess fat. Preheat the wok over medium heat. Add one-half of the can of coconut milk and stir until the fat starts to separate out, about three minutes. Add the curry paste. Cook, stirring for an additional three minutes until fragrant. Add the sliced steak. Stir to coat and cook until the exterior of the steak is no longer pink.

Add the rest of the coconut milk, the beef broth, the fish sauce, the brown sugar and cayenne pepper. Stir to incorporate and increase the heat on the wok. Bring to a rolling boil.

Next, add the red pepper, onion and pea-pods or green beans. Cook, stirring occasionally until reduced, about 10 minutes. The sauce should be very thick at this point and reduced by half.

Shut off the heat, stir in the basil and lime juice, the crushed peanuts, and serve immediately over jasmine rice.

Serves 2-4

NOTE: Traditionally, kaffir lime leaves are also called for. They are impossible to find in my area. They impart a very different flavor than basil, so if you can find them, give it a try by adding a few that are finely cut into strips.

When preparing the rice, do not add salt; the curry and fish sauce are loaded with it.

Thai Panang Beef | Culinary Compost Recipes

Thai Panang Beef | Culinary Compost Recipes

Thai Panang Curry Beef Recipe | Culinary Compost

Spicy Smoked Salsa Roja

Spicy Smoked Salsa Roja | Culinary Compost Recipes

Here’s a Southwest salsa recipe with a unique twist – the tomatoes, peppers, garlic and onion are smoked over wood chips for two hours. The result adds an entirely new dimension to a traditional red salsa. If you have access to an electric smoker, you’ll have better results with more control, due to the built-in thermostat — but using a traditional covered grill with offset heat is just fine.

The final product will be reduced by about half, due to the water content rendering out during the smoking process. Roma tomatoes are preferred because they have, on average, the lowest percentage of water. The garlic and onion will mellow to a wonderful, earthy flavor. You can use any hard or fruit wood – I’ve found that hickory or applewood works best. If using mesquite, use reservation as it can quickly turn bitter.  Enjoy!


3 tbs. XV olive oil
8-10 large Roma tomatoes – cored and halved
2 large garden Hot Hungarian wax peppers – trimmed, seeded and cut in 2″ chunks
2-4 mature red garden jalapeño peppers – trimmed and halved, with seeds and membrane left intact
1-2 small garden habañero peppers – trimmed (optional)
1/2 red onion – cut in four pieces with the layers separated
4 large cloves garlic (peeled)

1 cup washed cilantro leaves
Juice from 1/8 lemon wedge (optional)
1-2 tsp. salt, to taste



Carefully wash the tomatoes and peppers and prepare with a sharp knife. Add to a large mixing bowl with the onion and garlic. Add the olive oil and toss lightly to coat.

Prepare an outdoor electric smoker by preheating it to 275-degrees F. Place the water pan in the bottom, but leave it empty. You can line it with foil for easy cleanup. Seal the door. When preheated, place the mixed tomatoes, peppers, onion and garlic in a perforated grill pan directly on a center rack above the water pan. Seal the door and add one cup of wood chips to the chip loader. Smoke for two hours, replenishing the chip loader ONCE after 45 minutes. Do not over smoke.

When finished, turn off the unit and remove the contents from the perforated grill pan and place in a food processor. You’ll need to work in batches. Pulse until the desired consistency is achieved. Add the cilantro and pulse again. Transfer to serving bowl and salt to your preference. Add the lemon juice. Mix well, let stand for 20 minutes and serve with blue corn tortilla chips.

Makes about 2.5 cups
Preparation time: 1/2 hour
Smoke time: 2 hours
Rest time: 20 minutes
Cerveza time: Whenever the hell you feel like it

Fresh-picked garden tomatoes, Hungarian wax peppers and jalapenos.

Fresh-picked garden tomatoes, Hungarian wax peppers and jalapenos.

The smoked salsa ingredients after hour one.

The smoked salsa ingredients after hour one.

Spicy Smoked Salsa Rojo

The ingredients shown after the second hour. For this recipe, I used Jack Daniels’ Whiskey Barrel smoker chips.

Pork Loin Roast with Red Wine Sauce

I threw this together over the weekend and was impressed by how rich and decadent the wine sauce gravy turned out. Out of all of the pork loin recipes I’ve tried, this is one of my favorites. In order to achieve a proper roux, you need to be patient. The result is perfection.

If you prefer fresh mushrooms, by all means, use them. Enjoy!


One 2-pound pork loin roast
3 tbs. olive oil
4 tbs. butter
4 tbs. flour
1 small onion, diced
1 tbs. chicken base
1 cup dry red wine
2 tsp. Kitchen Bouquet®
1 cup hot water
1 small can mushrooms (stems and pieces), 4 oz., with liquid reserved
Fresh-ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 tsp granulated garlic, to taste
1 tbs. dry parsley
1 tbs. dry chives
1/2 tsp. ground dry thyme
2 dry bay leaves
1 rib celery, with leafy greens, diced
4 whole carrots, peeled and sliced into 2″ planks

Serve with mashed potatoes


Preheat oven to 275-degrees F.

Heat a large, heavy 5-qt cast-iron dutch oven over medium heat with the olive oil. Brown the roast on all sides and then set aside. Reduce the heat slightly, and deglaze the bottom of the pot with the red wine. Reduce heat to medium-low, then add the butter and the flour with the diced onion and stir constantly to form a dark roux; time varies but it may take over a half hour. Do not scorch the roux or it will taste bitter.

Add the water, Kitchen Bouquet, chicken base, fresh celery and canned mushrooms with their juices. Stir to incorporate, then add the dry spices. Bring to a boil, stir and shut off the heat. Add the pork roast back to the pan with juices.

Cover and bake in the oven for at least three hours; add the carrots during the last hour of cooking so they don’t get too soft.

Serve with your choice of potato or wide egg noodles.

Serves 4-6

Salsa Rojo Diablo

Salsa Rojo Diablo Recipe | Culinary Compost

Rojo Diablo means Red Devil. After trying this version, I think you’ll agree. This is my most popular salsa; people are always asking for the recipe when I serve it.


4 fresh large garden tomatoes (or 8 Romas)
1 small spanish or red onion – minced
2-3 jalapeño peppers
2 cayenne peppers
1 hungarian yellow wax pepper
2 cloves fresh minced garlic (a clove is 1 section of the whole bulb)
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, washed and then finely chopped
dash of lemon or lime juice
1/2-1 tbs. salt, to taste


Roma or Beefmaster tomatoes are preferred. Fine chop the tomatoes and place in bowl. Add the fine chopped peppers and spices. Go easy on the salt, and taste often, 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.

Mix 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 is 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.
Click here for my spicy smoked salsa roja recipe.

Szechuan Chili Oil

Szechuan Chili Oil | Culinary Compost Recipes

Make your own Szechuan chili oil using garden-grown dried Thai bird chilis.

One of the things I love best about takeout Chinese food is the small condiment cup of fiery chili oil served with egg rolls. The spice-infused oil goes well with just about anything.

It is easy and economical to make your own in small quantities. Just be sure not to get your oil too hot and burn the chilis.



10-12 dry red chili pods, each being about 2″ long
1/2 cup peanut or vegetable oil
1 tbs. pure sesame oil (optional)
1 small chunk of crushed ginger (optional)
1/4 tsp. Kosher salt



Cut the stems off the chilis and ensure they are clean and free of dust, or other debris. Crush them in a mortar or use a food processor and pulse for about 10 seconds.

Place the crushed chili in a glass jar with a tight fitting cover, large enough to hold 1/2 cup. Add the salt.

Heat 1/2 cup peanut oil in a wok until it just starts to smoke. The temperature at this point will be about 300-320 degrees F. Remove from heat and let cool for three minutes, or until the temperature is between 225-240 degrees F. Pour over the chilies (add the optional spices if you like) and seal the jar. Let cool at room temperature for at least one hour, then place in your fridge.

Will store for one month refrigerated.
Great on spring rolls, egg rolls, dumplings or noodles.

Makes 3/4 cup. Portion what you need and allow to warm up to room temperature before serving.

Red Chili Sauce

This sauce is a classic must-have recipe from Mark Miller, founder of the Coyote Cafe in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Goes great with just about anything and freezes well.


1/2 lb. (about 25) whole dried New Mexico chilis.
2 quarts water
1 lb. roma tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped white onion
1 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
5 large garlic cloves – roasted, peeled and fine chopped
1 tsp. roasted cumin seed
1-1/2 tsp. ground Mexican oregano
1 tsp. salt
2 tbs. peanut oil


Removed the stems and seeds from the dried chilis. Dry roast in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat, but do not allow to blacken or they will taste bitter. Turn once while roasting.

Add the chilis to water in a covered pan and simmer very low for 20 minutes. This will rehydrate the chilis.
Allow to cool.

Blacken the tomatoes in a skillet. Saute the onions in olive oil until carmelized.

Put the chilis in a blender. Add the tomatoes, onion, garlic, cumin, oregano and salt. Add one cup of the water if not bitter. If the water is bitter, add one cup of fresh water or chicken stock.

Puree to a fine paste – adding more water if necessary.

Add the peanut oil to the skillet and heat until almost smoking. Refry the sauce at a sizzle for 3-5 minutes. Stir continuously so it does not scorch. Do not allow the sauce to get too thick.

Remove from heat and serve. This recipe is excellent with blue corn chips.

Yield: 4 cups.

Ranchero Sauce

This sauce is a southwest staple from Mark Miller, founder of the Coyote Cafe in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Many uses – goes well with chicken, shrimp, pork or beef.


5 lbs. roma tomatoes
6 serrano chilis
2 cups white onion – fine chopped
2 tbs. garlic – fine chopped
2 tbs. peanut oil
6 poblanos – roasted, peeled and julienned
1 bunch cilantro, tied
2 tsp. salt


Blacken the tomatoes and serranos in a skillet. Chop together and set aside.

Saute the onion and garlic in oil until soft, but not carmelized. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan, reserving a few poblano strips for garnish.

Cook partially covered for 20-30 minutes on low. Add water if needed. Remove the tied cilantro. Garnish with poblano strips.

Yield: 8 cups.

Hatch Red Chili Sauce

A New Mexican traditional sauce with a variety of uses. Serve over burritos, tamales, grilled chicken. May also be used as a basting sauce.


Hatch dried mild NM red chilies, stemmed and seeded
Salt, to taste
Garlic cloves, mashed
Mexican oregano
Chili Molido (hot) for controlled heat
Pinch of sugar


Reconstitute pods in warm water for 1/2 hour. Puree in a blender.

Add other ingredients to taste and low-simmer partially covered on stove for 1-2 hours. Taste halfway through and correct seasoning to your preference.

Red Beans and Rice

This is an easy version of Red Beans & Rice that goes well with a number of main dishes like ribs, chicken and even steak. Make it as hot as you’d like. The chimayo controls the heat.


2 cups long-grain uncooked rice (basmati or other variety)
1 14oz. can chicken broth
1 14oz. can stewed tomatoes (plain)
1 14oz. can red beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 lb. bacon
2 medium Spanish or white onions – coarse chopped
4 cloves garlic, mashed
1 tbs. new-mex hot chimayo powder
1 tsp. mexican oregano
1 tsp. ground cumin from toasted seed
1/2 tbs. salt (go easy on the salt)


Saute the onions and bacon in a large skillet until slightly browned. You may want to start the bacon first.
Place in a 5-quart cast-iron dutch oven on medium heat.

Add broth and stewed tomatoes. Crush the tomatoes on the bottom of the pot with a masher. Add spices and simmer for 15 minutes, covered.

Add beans and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add dry rice and cover. Stir once and reduce heat to absolute minimum. Cook for 15 minutes more. Fluff and serve with Tabasco on the side.

Serves 6-8.