I tend to prefer green enchilada sauces to red enchilada sauces, with one of my favorite green enchilada sauces being made from New Mexico chiles.
The difference between green and red enchilada sauce is that green is made from fresh chiles, and red is made from dried chiles.
Anaheim Chile vs. Hatch Chile
Long green chiles are known by many names, such as Anaheim, Hatch, California peppers, New Mexico chiles, Magdelena chiles, or in Mexico, chile del norte (Northern chiles).
Those different names all refer to the particular growing region of chiles belonging to the species Capsicum annuum. In the case of chile del norte, it’s a general term referring to all Capsicum annuum, regardless of where it’s grown.
The region in which chiles are grown is important. Like wine, the terroir (climate and soil) makes a difference in flavor. For instance, New Mexico chiles (Hatch and Magdelina) generally have a more robust flavor and are hotter than their Californian cousins (which includes Anaheim peppers).
I prefer New Mexico Chiles, which range in heat depending on the variety (NM #20, Big Jim, Sandia, Barker, etc.), but they’re not available fresh at the grocery store here all year long, like anaheims.
With all that said, use whichever long green chile you like for this recipe.
Roasting Your Green Chiles
You don’t need an open fire to roast green chiles, although the smokiness the fire adds makes them taste even better. They taste just fine roasted in your home oven.
Roasted chiles also make your house smell amazing. Forget the smelly candles. Just give me a batch of roasted chiles.
To roast your chiles in the oven, put them in a heavy-duty pan and slide them under a preheated broiler with the rack in its highest position. Turn them over after they’ve turned black and roast the opposite side.
To make them easy to peel, throw them in a heat-proof bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. This will allow them to steam and help release their skins.
Once they’ve cooled enough to handle, peel off the blackened skin, then tear off the stem and remove the seed pod along with any stray seeds.
Resist the urge to run them under water to wash away the seeds or skins. You’ll wash some of the flavor away along with the seeds.
A few seeds making their way into your diced chiles won’t hurt anything.
New Mexico Green Chile Enchilada Sauce
- 1 1/4 lb. New Mexico or Anaheim Chiles - roasted, peeled, de-seeded, and chopped (about 1 1/2 cups), or, substitute frozen chiles
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 cups chicken stock - divided
- 1/4 large white onion - finely diced
- 3 tbsp. pork lard - melted, or, substitute vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp. Mexican oregano
- 1 tsp. Kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- Roast, peel, and de-seed the chiles per the instructions above.
- Add the chiles, garlic, and 1/2 cup of chicken stock to a blender jar and puree until smooth.
- Heat the lard over medium-high heat and cook the onions until soft. About 5 minutes. Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly with a wire whisk, until well incorporated and the raw taste is cooked out of the flour. About 3-4 minutes.
- Add the chile puree, then pour the chicken stock into the blender jar to rinse out any remaining puree and pour it into the pan. Add the seasonings and stir thoroughly. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer, cover, and cook for an additional 10 minutes, stirring often.