In the north of Mexico, where I’m from, chunks of luscious braised pork wade in ruddy sauce. If the pot was big enough, I swear I’d jump right in. This is my soul food. This is carne con chile Colorado.
And no, it’s not from the state of Colorado. Colorado basically means “red” in Spanish, as in the color imparted by chiles like guajilos and anchos. When I was ittle and my mom would make this dish, the house would have this unbelievable aroma of tomatoes and tomatillos, garlic and onions, all charring on a comal. This more than anything else, my mom always says, is the smell of a Mexican kitchen.
You see this basic combination of ingredients in various forms throughout the country, from that mind-blowing pork to the marinade for thin slices of beef browning over charcoal in the street markets of Oaxaca, to big pots of pozole, the hominy stew that’s the world’s greatest hangover cure. But my Chile Colorado Sauce distills the flavors into a puree that you can turn into multiple dishes. It’s a beautiful thing: a little tangy from the tomatillos, a touch sweet from the tomatoes and onions, and packed with flavor (not heat) from the ancho and guajillo chiles. And making it fills your kitchen with the same awesome smells I was blessed to experience growing up.
Recipe Makes 2 Quarts Sauce to marinate your choice of meat
3 Medium White Onions, quartered
8 Medium Tomatillos, husked and washed
4 Medium Tomatoes, cored and quartered
8 Whole Garlic Cloves, peeled
Olive Oil for Drizzling
1 Ancho Chile (1/2 ounce), stemmed, seeded and deveined
2 Guajillo Chiles (1/2 ounce), stemmed, seeded and deveined
1 Quart Chicken Stock, Low Sodium (store-bought is fine!)
Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper (to taste)
1. Preheat the broiler.
2. Put the onions, tomatillos, tomatoes and garlic on a baking sheet and drizzle them with olive oil. Put the baking sheet under the broiler and cook without turning until the vegetables start to get charred, about 7 minutes. Remove, set aside, and let cool to room temperature.
3. In a large dry skillet over medium-low heat, toast the guajillos, turning them over halfway through, just until they smell great, about 1 minute. Transfer them to a bowl, cover them with hot water and let them soak until they’re soft, about 30 minutes. Drain the chiles and discard the soaking water
4. Combine the vegetables and chiles in a blender with the chicken stock (you’ll have to work in batches) and puree until the mixture is very smooth. Transfer each batch to a bowl as it’s done, and stir the batches together well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
5. Let your beef (or pork/chicken) hang out in it for a few hours, throw it on the grill and you’re a happy camper.
Shelf Life: 1 week in the refrigerator or 1 month frozen.