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From the Kitchens of Pancho Villa has been awarded the honor of "WINNER" in the "Cookbooks: International" category of the 2014 International Book Awards!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Stuffed Plantains

By now you all understand when I say 'plantain', right? It looks like a banana, a very large banana, but is nothing like a banana once you take the peel off. They are also known as platano macho in Spanish. If you have not eaten one, then march right down to your produce store and pick up some. However, don't start munching on them on the way home in the car! They need to be cooked before they are palatable.

Today, I challenge you to make this simple yet delicious main course recipe. It is sweet and savory all at the same time....a traditional Mexican combination.

To begin you will be boiling the peeled and sliced plantains then pureeing them, so not necessary to have pretty slices.

4 plantains, almost ripe, peeled and thickly sliced (see note below)
½ teaspoon salt – for boiling water
2 eggs
¼ cup flour
oil for frying

1½ cups refried beans, either homemade or canned

1 cup sour cream

Boil enough water to cover the plantains. When the water has come to a boil, add the salt and plantains. Boil until they are fork tender. Remove with a slotted spoon to a blender or food processor. Discard the boiling water.

After the plantains are pureed and have cooled slightly, add the eggs and flour. Pulse until well mixed. Form the dough into 24 patties thick patties. Stuff the patties with 1 Tablespoon refried beans, shaping the dough around the beans to enclose.

Heat the oil until it is very hot but not smoking and fry the patties, turning once. Drain on paper towels. (remember not to crowd the pan – the oil cools down and will only leave you with a gooey mess)

Serve 2 or 3 patties per serving. Serve with sour cream and a side green salad.

How in the heck do I know if it is ripe? I heard you......

The peel of the plantain will be dark brown or almost black. Dark on a plantain is good. Yellow is NOT ripe. The skin can also look wrinkly. (is that a word?) This is also a good thing.

Feel it. Does it 'give' under a mild squeeze? If so, it is ready; if not, leave it on the counter for a few more days. Plantains are not like bananas which ripen in just a couple of days. Plantains can take almost a month to fully ripen from that yellowy banana color.

You can also freeze fully-ripe plantains for later use. Peel and either place whole in a freezer bag or slice them up. They are great with ice cream or blitzed up into a cream as a topping for fruit or cake – like a spice cake!

Sunday, September 22, 2013


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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Tomatillo Dip with Ancho and Pasilla Chiles

Here is another simple recipe that will WOW! your friends. Since I know you make most of the recipes posted here, you already have both the ancho and pasilla chiles in your pantry. These 2 chiles are among the most common dried chiles you will find in your market. The other is the guajillo, but we won't be using that one today.

After making this recipe, I have found other ways to use this dip. I make a lot of chicken, most people probably do. This is a wonderful sauce for grilled, sautéed or roasted chicken; sandwiches and tacos too. You certainly don't need to have company over to make this because it says 'dip'. Consider it an accompaniment.

So here we go:

Makes enough dip for 4 people or 2 gordos....... (you will have to look that one up)

2 ancho chiles – stem and seeds removed, wipe the chiles with a very slightly damp paper towel
2 pasilla chiles – do the same thing with these

2 teaspoons oil (not extra-virgin)
½ white onion, rough chopped
2 cloves garlic
10 oz (300 grams) tomatillos, husks removed, washed and chopped
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup sour cream
7 oz (190 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons cilantro

Heat the oil in a small skillet. Sauté the dried chiles, onion, garlic and tomatillos until they are soft.

Pour into a blender with all the other ingredients. Blend until it is a spreadable consistency.

As a dip, serve with tortilla chips or crackers. As a spread, use your imagination!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Oaxaca Style Eggs

We have all seen the commercials about having eggs for meals other than breakfast. This is a perfect egg dish to serve at any meal. You can even make the sauce ahead and keep in the refrigerator, or better yet, freeze some. I love to make a huge batch of sauce and package in freezer bags the amount most of my recipes call for. Once you begin to make your cooked salsas for freezer storage, you life will be much simpler and you will find that preparing good, authentic Mexican food is a snap! I am going to start you out with the sauce I have here today. We will make a double batch so you can freeze half. Remember than many sauces are interchangeable and not just good for one recipe. This is a wonderful sauce to poach chicken, or spoon onto grilled meat, or a hamburger, or....... you get the picture.

4 servings

On to the sauce...

3 cups water
8 Roma tomatoes
2 white onions, divided usage = 1½ plus ½
12 whole garlic cloves, not necessary to peel
3 serrano or jalapeño chiles (serranos have more heat), stems removed
2 slices white onion
3 sprigs fresh epazote – (if unavailable: 3 sprigs cilantro)
salt to taste

Put the water in a saucepan with the tomatoes, 1½ onions, 8 garlic cloves and the chiles. Boil over medium heat for 20 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid. Cool slightly. Blend the cooked ingredients with ½ onion, 4 garlic cloves and a ¼ – ½ cup of the reserved cooking liquid in a blender. If the sauce is too thick, add a bit more liquid.

Heat the oil in a medium sized frying pan. Add the onion slices and brown. Carefully pour in the liquefied sauce and stir in the epazote and salt to taste. Cook until the sauce has thickened a bit, about 10 minutes. Keep warm. Spoon half of the sauce into a freezer container for later use.

OK, time for the eggs:

4 Tablespoons oil (not extra-virgin)
12 eggs
salt to taste
8 epazote leaves (leaves only), finely chopped

In a medium to large skillet, heat the oil until very hot. With a whisk, beat the eggs with salt and epazote leaves. Carefully pour the beaten eggs into the hot oil and cook until the underside is set. Flip the eggs over in the pan – try your skills at flipping in the air – maybe try it over a tray lined with plastic just in case... continue cooking the eggs until they are firm. Cut the eggs into bite size pieces and add the sauce. Cook over low heat for 20 minutes more. Add a little more cooking liquid if the sauce becomes too dry or thick.

To serve these delicious eggs, pour them onto a large platter. Garnish with some extra epazote if you like. Serve with warm tortillas and refried beans.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Melted Cheese (Queso Fundido)

Melted Cheese

Cheese isn't a nasty word, is it? I guess it is if you have an over-the-top cholesterol count. If you do, then today's recipe is NOT for you, sorry. We do not have reduced fat or fat free cheese here so I have not been able to test one of these varieties for you. But look through the prior recipes and most of them are cholesterol and heart friendly.

I happen to be one of those folks who just needs to try not to eat
much of that artery clogging stuff to keep myself healthy. I do love cheese though, and Mexico has some amazingly smooth and flavorful cheeses. My friend Louisa uses 3 different types in this smooth delicacy.

Queso Fundido (melted cheese) has many faces as do so many other authentic Mexican recipes. This is another variation and one I think you will like and make often.

With football season upon us, even you men out there can make a great snack for your buddies. Think how impressed they will be with your new-found culinary skills! This ain't no sissy food!!!!

*Note: if you cannot find the exact cheeses I recommend, you can substitute what is available to you with these caveats

  • you need a smooth melting cheese
  • mild flavor white cheese (NOT white cheddar)
  • some cheeses you can substitute, but not limited to (you need 3 different cheeses)

    • muenster
    • Monterey Jack
    • mozzarella

Serves up to 8 but who's counting?

Start with the sauce (salsa). Not all salsas are created equal and wow this one has a punch! You can take the liberty of leaving out some – not all – of the chiles. (If you wish, you can substitute jalapeños for the serranos).

1 medium size white onion, finely diced

4 large tomatoes, seeds removed, then diced

2 serrano chiles, finely diced ** or substitute 2 jalapeño chiles – remove seeds for less heat

1 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped

½ teaspoon dried Mexican oregano

¼ cup fresh lime juice

¼ teaspoon salt *

* I know I have told you never, never put salt in a fresh salsa, but this salsa will be marinating (sort of) and needs to have some liquid pulled out to help blend the flavors.

Mix all the ingredients together in a serving bowl. Allow to sit outside the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving. You may cover it with a lid or not, your choice.

On to the Cheese:

This can be baked in a regular oven or counter-top oven. Preheat oven to 175° C (350° F).

Grease (I use butter but you can also use a non-virgin olive oil) either 8 individual oven proof dishes (about ¾ cup each) or a glass baking dish, such as deep dish pie pan.


395 grams (14 oz) EACH Chihuahua, asadero, Oaxaca - grated

Notice that I use the same amount of each cheese. Use the weight of the cheese, not cups or volume. If you want more or less servings, increase or decrease the amounts.

Mix all the cheese together and divide equally among the individual dishes or pop into the larger baking dish. Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly. The time should only be about 10 minutes. A little more if you have the cheese in one dish, but keep an eye on it. Browning a little of the top is OK, but not necessary. Use the baking dish(es) as your serving dish. (Men: don't forget a hot pad for the table).

Serve immediately with the sauce and fresh, warm tortillas. Corn is traditional but flour is acceptable.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Fresh Fruit Salad

 Fruit salad is probably one dish that is made in most of the homes around the world, changing the ingredients to fit the area and season. Here in Mazatlán we all have our favorite fruits and our own ways of combining them. Who doesn't start salivating at the thought of fresh strawberries, sweet pineapple, and crisp apples all drizzled with a honey lime sauce?

My Mexican friends all make their own variety and I enjoy each one. Well, most of them anyway, I just don't like grapes and that seems to be a common ingredient in many of them. I spoon up the fruit around the grapes so I don't have to explain why they are still sitting on my plate.

Other common fruits that are used here most often are papaya, mango, watermelon, kiwi and maybe a banana. I like to use all of these fruits. The color is inviting and the blend of flavors will tantalize your taste buds. (some of these fruits are considered aphrodisiacs so ...). The quantity of each fruit depends on your particular tastes. I love more papaya and mango in my salad, with lots of pineapple.

Don't forget to keep the seeds from your papaya. They are edible and have a nice peppery flavor.

To the salad:

All the fruit should be fresh and cut into bite-sized pieces. I like a combination of ½ inch dice, thin slices and wedges.

Papaya – cut into cubes (reserve the seeds but don't rinse them)
mango – peeled and cut into cubes
pineapple, cored and cut into small wedges
watermelon – cut into cubes, seeds removed or purchase a seedless variety
fresh strawberries – hulled and sliced down through the entire berry
kiwi – peeled and sliced into rounds

honey (optional and may be omitted)
fresh lime juice

Place all the fruit into a large clear glass bowl. Mix some honey with fresh lime juice to your taste. The amount you need will depend on the size of your salad. OR if you have opted to omit the honey, squeeze fresh lime juice over the fruit. Toss gently to coat and mix the fruit. Sprinkle the top with the reserved papaya seeds.

Making fruit salad should be easy and always fresh. Never use canned or frozen fruit. If you have other fruit in your refrigerator, use it. If adding a banana, include it at the last minute before serving, drizzle the slices with a bit more lime juice to keep from browning.

Have this for dessert too. Omit the papaya seeds and drizzle some sweetened sour cream over the top for a sweet and tangy sauce.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Refried Beans

Here is an excerpt (between the ****) from the book From the Kitchens of Pancho Villa that explains everything you need to know about refried beans, the authentic Mexican way!


The first thing I do with dried beans of any kind is sort them on a white plate, so that I can easily see the tiny stones or shriveled beans at a glance. Discard anything that looks foreign or discolored.

To soak or not to soak—in Mexico, it is not necessary to soak beans because they are not old beans. In other parts of the world, the turnover in dried bean supplies may not be as active, so if the beans are old, soaking is the way to go. If you choose to soak, then you will need to plan ahead, as they will need to soak overnight. Rinse the beans in a colander and then put them in a large pot. Cover them with cold water to about 7.62 cm/3 inches above the beans. Let sit until tomorrow. In the morning, drain and rinse again. They are now ready to be cooked.

Or ...

Rinse the beans in a colander and then put them in a large pot with a well-fitting lid. Cover them with cold water to about 7.62 cm/3 inches above the beans. Heat the beans over medium heat until they have come to a rolling boil. Keep the lid on—no peeking. Turn the heat off, and let them sit undisturbed for one hour. After one hour, drain the beans and rinse again. They are now ready to be cooked. Now, what you have been waiting for ... (drum roll) ...

Refried Beans ... THE RECIPE
        Frijoles Refritos

2½ cups dried beans
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
½ onion, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon dried epazote (optional)
3 Tablespoons real pork lard (fresh, if possible; not that white canned stuff) or oil (both are commonly used)

After you have either soaked the beans overnight or hydrated them by cooking for an hour, you are now ready to really cook them.

In your pot, put the newly rinsed beans, the onion, and garlic and add enough water to cover by 5 cm/2 inches. You will salt them a bit later.

Over medium heat, cook the beans 1 hour. Add the salt and epazote. Cook for another hour. Test for doneness at this point. Taste one to see if it is totally soft. If it is, they are done. If it still has a bit of chew to it, keep cooking. Check them at 30 minute intervals.

NOTE: The times may differ, depending on the age of the dried beans. The older the bean, the longer the cooking time.

When the beans are done, drain them, reserving about 1 cup of the cooking broth. Now is the time to mash the beans, onion, and garlic. The way to mash them offers another choice: you can mash them with a potato masher and have some lovely little chunks of beans mixed with the bean purée, or you can use the back of a large wooden spoon to mash them for a smoother texture. I like them really smooth, so I use an immersion blender. If your beans are too stiff, add some of the broth you kept—not all of it, just a little at a time to thin them out.

When you have the consistency you like, heat the lard or oil in a large frying pan. When it is hot, add the beans and let them fry, stirring occasionally until they are heated thoroughly and all the lard/oil has been absorbed. Adjust your salt, if necessary. Serve.


Tacos al pastor

page 117 From the Kitchens of Pancho Villa (recipe only)


2 kilos (4.4 pounds) boneless pork leg, sliced very thin (less than 6 mm / 1⁄4 inch)
6 ancho chiles
1⁄2 head garlic, peeled
3 teaspoons salt
1 large can sliced pineapple (1.7 pounds/820 grams)
1⁄3 large onion
oil (small amount for searing the meat)
warm corn tortillas (lots of them)

In a small pan of boiling water, add the ancho chiles. When they are soft, about 5–10 minutes, remove them from the water. When they are cool enough to handle, remove the stems, seeds, and veins. Place the cleaned chiles in a blender jar with the garlic, 3 teaspoons salt, onion, juice from the canned pineapple, and enough water to cover the chiles. Blend until very smooth. Pour into a wide pan or dish.

In a hot skillet or grill pan, drizzle 1 tablespoon oil. Heat until it is very hot. Dip the meat slices into the ancho sauce, then carefully place them in the hot pan. Since the meat is very thin, it will cook in about 3–4 minutes on each side (depending on the thickness you have). When the meat is done, remove it to a
plate. Scrape the scraps from the pan after each piece of meat is cooked and discard so you don’t have any burned sauce on the next piece. Add more oil, 1 tablespoon at a time, as needed, and repeat the cooking process with as much of the meat as you wish to cook.

Dip the pineapple slices into the sauce, and sear them on both sides.

Chop the meat into bite-sized pieces and put on a large plate. Chop the pineapple into chunks, and place alongside the meat on the plate. Each person can make his or her own tacos from this serving plate.

Spoon the meat and pineapple into warm tortillas.

Carne asada

Sounds difficult doesn't it?  You have seen it on menus and thought this was some tradition that was tightly held in the family vault?  It only means grilled meat.   Traditional carne asada that I can buy here in Mexico is very thin, and can be called names like skirt steak outside of Mexico.  The steak is almost always seasoned with a dry rub, then grilled over hot coals.  The steaks are usually cooked well-done, not rare or medium-rare.  As you can guess, the steaks cook very fast so are easy to over-cook if you don't keep an eye on them.  Many carne asadas are cooked then chopped into bits for taco filling.  They can also be served as a small steak with some guacamole, grilled onions, pineapple or a variety of other sauces.  I had one yesterday for breakfast that was served with a fried egg and sauce on top. 

Dry seasonings: there are several dry steak seasonings on the market that are wonderful and perfectly acceptable to use. The ingredients to look for are essentially what you like as there are no set rules to seasoning carne asada. If you want to make your own, the seasonings should include salt (non-iodized), ground black pepper, ground cumin, chile powder, ground Mexican oregano and garlic powder. If you have garlic salt, then just omit the regular salt. Lightly sprinkle the seasonings on both sides of the beef and rub in. Grill until the meat is done the way you like it, then remove from the grill and let it rest for 5 minutes. Chop the meat into small pieces and place in a bowl to keep warm.

Grilled chicken

Choose the cuts of chicken that you prefer.  I usually purchase a whole chicken and have the butcher butterfly it for me.  I then have a flat chicken to grill.  I take the meat I want to cut up off the bigger pieces and keep the drumsticks and wings to munch on later.  

Rinse the chicken pieces and pat dry. Make sure to leave the skin on so the meat will not dry out. Whether you have the bone still attached is your personal choice, but there is good news and bad news considering the bone. The good news is the chicken will have more flavor, the bad news is it will take longer to cook if it still has the bone.

Salt and pepper the chicken, all around and rub it in. No other seasonings are necessary. (you can use Old Bay or dry rub for chicken if you prefer).  Grill to perfection! You know how to do that, right? Make sure to char the skin so it gets really crunchy. That is, after all, the best part. Your guests can always remove the skin if they desire.

After taking the chicken off the grill, allow it to rest for 5-10 minutes. Serve it in whole pieces or chop it i
nto small pieces and put in a bowl to serve in tacos.

Corn Husk Serving Bowls

These are great for salsas and you will need several for that big taco party!

If you are like me, I am always looking for fun or creative ways to serve salsas, nuts, olives, or spreads. These little bowls or 'boats' are easy to make, safe for food and disposable! What better combination is there for a serving dish?

The only thing you need to buy is a package of dried corn husks. Find them in the Mexican food area of your grocery store. You can also use fresh corn husks in the summer. Admit it, you thought they were only good for tamales!!!

If you have never handled dried corn husks, spread the package contents on the counter. Throw away any husks that are moldy. A little mold on the outside is ok*. Now, they will need to be cleaned before you use them. In a large pan, bring a few quarts or liters of water to a boil. Place the husks in the boiling water and simmer them for 5 minutes. Dunk them in the boiling water with a wooden spoon so you don't put holes in them. Allow them to sit for 10-15 minutes in the hot water. (*notice that any small amount of mold you had is gone)

Remove them from the hot water and allow to drain. Rinse each husk under running water while rubbing gently with your hands to remove any dirt that might still be attached. Separate the thinnest husk to make the ties, tearing off a long strip about the thickness of a shoestring, and keep them damp.

Take one of the clean, damp husks and gather the narrow end together. Wrap one of your ties 2 times around the gathered end and then tie the tie into a tight knot. Repeat with the wider end of the husk and tie. Place the newly formed 'bowl' on a counter or tray to dry. Repeat until you have enough bowls for the occasion.

Allow the husks you did not use to dry thoroughly and store in a plastic bag.


For the non-alcohol drinkers including kids:

Makes 2 liters/2 quarts

If you can find them, use Key Limes. Do not even try to make limonada with bottled lime juice, the kind you find on the grocery aisle, not in the freezer section—this drink is all about freshness! I do know how expensive limes can be, if that is the case where you live, just buy some frozen lime concentrate and make your limeade that way.

3⁄4 cup fresh lime juice (about 10–15 limes, depending on the size)
1 cup granulated sugar (use 3⁄4 cup sugar if you like it less sweet)
1 cup water plus more water and ice to fill a 2 liter/2 quart pitcher

Heat the 1 cup water until it is very warm but not hot. Make a simple syrup by adding the sugar and stirring to allow it to dissolve so you don’t have grainy limeade. This simple syrup will cool while you squeeze your limes.

Roll the limes on the counter using pressure from the heel of your hand to release more of the juice, especially if the limes are a bit hard. Cut the limes in half. Over a small strainer, squeeze the juice from the limes until you have at least 3⁄4 cup. You can use a squeezer, a reamer, or your hands to squeeze them; it doesn’t matter. The hand-held squeezer is the most common utensil for this task. Nearly every household in Mexico owns one.

Pour the lime juice and simple syrup into your pitcher. Stir to mix well. Add about 1-1⁄2 liters/1-1⁄2 quarts of cold water. Give it a taste. It should not make you pucker; it should just have a lovely refreshing flavor. If it tastes just perfect, add ice, and go sit out under the tree. If it needs a bit of adjusting, do so now. If it needs more sugar, make sure to melt it in some warm water before adding it to the limeade to avoid that gritty sensation. Too strong? Just add a bit more water. Not enough lime? Squeeze another.

Everyone has his or her own tastes when it comes to limeade, lemonade, or any other citrus drink. You will quickly find how to adjust yours to your taste buds. If you adjust the recipe, make sure to write it down so that the next time you make it, you will look like a pro.

A quick tip about limes: outside Mexico, limes tend to be a bit more expensive, so when limes go on sale in your area, buy as many as you can. Juice them into ice cube trays. When they are frozen, remove from the tray and place them in a freezer bag. Then, when you want a tall glass of limeade, pop 1 cube into a glass, add some simple syrup, cold water, and ice.

The Best Margarita You Will EVER Drink

My husband makes ALL the margaritas at every party we go to. No one cares that he isn't Mexican, he just flat out makes the best margaritas! I am going to share his recipe, although I didn't ask if I could do that, so keep it our secret.

First of all, he makes each margarita separately. He doesn't make them in a pitcher so each one he makes is exactly like the one before or it can be modified to be stronger or weaker, depending on each drinker.

Please promise me you will not buy that Margarita mix in a bottle or one of those tubs. The drinks smell like dirty armpits using that stuff AND have you read the list of ingredients? You have gone to all the trouble and planning to have an authentic Mexican taco party, so don't ruin it with that pre-packaged junk.

The Best Margarita You Will EVER Drink:

You will need for each drink:

Red solo cup
Fill with cubed ice
2 oz good tequila – we use José Cuervo Gold, nothing expensive
2 oz Cointreau, Triple Sec or other orange liqueur (does not need to be expensive)
juice from 1 lime

Fill the glass with Squirt.  Stir and serve with a straw.

**A note about Squirt or other soft drinks you 'pour' for your friends. You may like Diet Squirt or Diet pop but not everyone can tolerate it. When making drinks for others, always give them the option of either regular or diet. I, for instance, get violently ill when I am served anything with an artificial sweetener. I have had this happen to me a few times. Once at a restaurant and I bet they won't do that again with their customers because I ended up throwing up all over the place. Other times I have gotten an almost immediate migraine headache that stays for days. So be kind to your guests and always ask first.

Fresh Fruit Salsa

Today I am thinking fresh fruit salsas. Yep, that's it. Summertime, a long weekend and fresh fruit salsa to go on top of barbecued chicken, pork or salmon! Sounds good to me too.

The fruit you will want to buy or pick could be peaches, apricots, mangoes, nectarines, or plums. Any type fruit with a juicy, tender interior. This is a FRESH salsa so no cooking required AND no refrigeration. You can, of course, if you want, heat it up just for something a little different, but that will be your choice.

Start with 2 large peaches (not canned – but you may use unsweetened frozen if you must). Peel them and remove the seed. Dice the flesh into very small cubes. Make sure to catch all the juice dripping from them.

You will also need 1 very thin slice of purple onion diced very tiny, 1 tablespoon jalapeño or serrano chiles very finely diced, 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar, and 1 tablespoon finely minced cilantro leaves. Toss them all together and let it sit in a bowl at room temperature.

Any of the above mentioned fruits can be used for this salsa, you can even combine varieties.

Cooked Chile Morita Salsa

The most under-used chile that I have ever seen is the chile morita. Any of you use it in your cooking or have tasted it? Even in Mexico they are not easily found. They look like a very small ancho chile, dark and wrinkled. When you smell them, it takes you to the great outdoors in front of a wood fire. I keep one in the car because the scent is so woodsy. They are a type of chipotle but you won't find them in a can of adobo. Rather, they are only sold dried.

Grown in northern Mexico in the state of Chihuahua (like the dog) they are purple in color when ripe, not red. Use them as you would a dried ancho chile. They need to be re-hydrated and then blitzed in the blender. When making a cooked or roasted salsa, only use one (or ½ of one), they are very smoky and will over-power your salsa if you use too many. 

1 chile morita
5 roma tomatoes
¼ onion
¼ teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic

Remove the stem and seeds from the chile. Toss it into some boiling water and allow to cook for 5 minutes. Drain, discarding the water. Place the chile into the blender and puree.

In the same pan, bring more water to a boil. Pop in the whole tomatoes and garlic. Cook those for 3 minutes. Drain, discarding the water. Place those and the remainder of the ingredients in the blender with the chile. Blitz on and off until you only have small chunks remaining.

Use this salsa on chips, chicken, tacos, eggs, beef, pork, fish or shrimp. It is very versatile and yes, very flavorful!

Ancho-Guajillo Chile Sauce

This is a simple yet tasty, versatile sauce that can be made ahead and either refrigerated or frozen. I love the smell in my kitchen when I toast chiles and there is almost no mess, I love that part too! Use this sauce when you cook rice: just put a couple of tablespoons in when you add the water. It is fabulous on pork or chicken - baked, grilled or roasted. Heat up some leftovers and make some enchiladas with this sauce. The options are limitless. Eggs? You bet!

Ancho chiles are mild with an earthy, smoky flavor while guajillos have more of a 'fruity' flavor and almost no heat. Make a batch or two and keep some on hand for almost any meal you want to add a Mexican flair.

A tip from my kitchen: I do make this sauce, several batches at a time and freeze. I use small quart size freezer bags and put about 1 cup in each bag. Don't forget to label the bag because in the frozen state, most sauces look alike!

Makes About 5 Cups

9 dried ancho chiles, stems and seeds removed
6 dried guajillo chiles, stems and seeds removed
5 cups very hot water

4 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
2 teaspoons salt

Heat a large 'dry' skillet (I use cast iron) over medium-high heat 2 minutes. With a slightly damp paper towel, wipe the outside of each chile – they probably have some dust on them. Open each chile, shake out the seeds (discard) and place the chiles flat in the skillet. Toast just until the chiles blister, pressing down on the chiles with a spatula or tongs , then turn them over and repeat, about 30 seconds total. Place the 'toasted' chiles in a bowl, then add 5 cups very hot water. Soak the chiles until they have hydrated, about 10 minutes.

Working in batches, puree the chiles with soaking liquid and all remaining ingredients in blender until smooth. (Can be made 1 day ahead, store covered and refrigerated; can also be frozen for future use)

As seen on:

As seen on: