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Tostada Night - Dont fear the Chile!

(post, David Silva)

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Wrapped in celo, or packaged proper, they proudly display their rusty colors. No two are alike, every shape is unique. Come on, admit it. How many times have you walked passed dried chiles and said to yourself, "Man! I wish I knew how to use those", or "I love to cook Mexican food, but those chiles must be so hard to cook with. And spicy hot, too". 

Well, folks, I hope this blog posting helps all those curious cooks. Please don't be afraid of chiles. Honestly, it couldn't be easier. And I hope that anyone reading this that has been curious on using dried chiles will pick some up today.

I've had this salsa roja recipe stored up for a while. It was a brisk 16 degrees last night in Manhattan, and if there EVER was a time to be transported to Oaxaca, that was the night. I finally had the courage to made my first red enchilada sauce, and I bought those darn chiles.

For those with families, or those cooking in a time-crunch, this sauce takes just a bit more than 30 minutes. And that time is spent just waiting, actually. NO effort at all except waiting for the timer. I have never had such stellar results come from something so easy. (Well, other than my roasting addiction, but again, those results come from waiting too!) 

1. Buy 21 chiles guajillos. 
2. Cut off the top stem and pour out the seeds. (They will just slide right out. And don't worry if you can't get them all out - they are not firey hot)

3. Place all your chiles in a bowl and pour 4 cups of boiling water on them.

4. Press them down with a plate (I used the weight of a can of frijoles on top of the plate) and let them soak for 30 minutes. (The "hard part" is done. That's right. Give yourself a pat on the back.)

5. Drain the soaking liquid, reserving 1 - 1 1/2 cups. Use this to puree the chilies into a thick sauce. (I used my stick blender.)

6. Add 1 Tsp. of each: Sugar, Dried Oregano, Garlic, Salt.

7. Add 1/4 Tsp of Ground Cloves. 

8. Pour sauce into a saucepan, cover, and bring to a boil.

9. Let rest for 5 mins. You are DONE!

I really hope that this posting breaks the fear of dried chiles for anyone that has been nervous or curious. We put this sauce on home-made torillas with black beans, queso fresco, and had ourselves a fiesta. Break out those blenders and make some salsa, people! Have fun.