Mild Red Chile and Almond Sauce (Salsa de Chile Ancho y Almendra)

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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6 ancho chiles
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 pound (3/4 cup, about) toasted almonds, ground
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. sugar
4 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 cups chicken, beef, or fish stock


Pull the stems off the chiles, then shake out and discard the seeds. Rinse the chiles in cold water; tear them into pieces and put them into a bowl with 1 cup of hot water. Let the chiles soak for about 1 hour or longer if the chiles are very dry, turning them from time to time. Put the chiles, any soaking water, and the onion into a blender or food processor and reduce to a puree. Add the almonds to the chile mixture with the cinnamon, cloves, oregano, sugar and salt to taste. The mixture will be quite heavy, almost a paste. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet and saute the chile mixture, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for 5 minutes over moderate heat. Add 2 cups of the appropriate stock and stir it intro the mix. Simmer for a few minutes longer. (Clam juice may be used instead of fish stock.)

The sauce, which should be of a medium consistency, is now ready to use with salt cod, poultry, pork or veal. It may also be used with fresh fish, preferably fillets, in which case the uncooked fish may be simmered in the sauce until done, or put into a greased, shallow flameproof casserole with the sauce poured over it and baked in a preheated moderate (350F) oven until tender, about 20 minutes.

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