Basic Red Sauce

Ancho (Ahn-cho) Chile (Capsicum Annum) means Wide Chile Pepper. This chile ranges from 3 – 4 on a heat scale of 1 to 10. An Ancho is the dried form of a Poblano Pepper and often is mislabeled as a Pasilla or Mulato Pepper. Anchos have sweet fruity flavor with hints of cherry, prune, and fig. Anchos, combined with the Pasilla and Guajillo, form the Holy Trinity of chiles used to prepare the traditional mole sauces. Scoville heat units are 1,000 to 3,000.

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8 ancho chiles
3 1/2 cups warm water
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup vegetable oil
8 oz tomato sauce
1 Tbsp dried oregano leaves
1 Tbsp cumin seed
1 tsp salt


Cover the chiles with warm water. Let stand until softened, about 30 minutes. Drain with a strainer, reserving the liquid. Remove the stems, seeds, and membranes from the chiles.

Cook onion and garlic in oil in a 2-quart saucepan until onion is tender. Stir in chiles, 2 cups of the reserved liquid, and the remaining ingredients. Heat to boiling, then reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Cool.

Pour mixture into a food processor or blender. Cover and process until smooth. Cover and refrigerate up to 10 days.

Makes about 2 1/2 cups sauce.