The complex flavors, mild sweetness, and subtle building heat of this chile sauce are owing to the varieties of chiles used. This recipe can and should be used with any and all varieties of dried chiles. The chiles are toasted, and soaked after being processed. After a warm bath the little peppers are pulsed into a fine paste with other aromatics before being reduced into the fragrant and delicious final product. The fresh bite of lightly cooked garlic and red onion give this sauce a surprising bright quality. It stores great in the freezer, so double up the recipe and break out the ice cube trays.
Towards the end of every year -after Christmas- a few of my closest friends and I gather for what we call Gourmet Taco Christmas. Family and stress are banned at this boozy feast, where we eat delicious Mexican and South American foods made completely from scratch. Nothing is pre-packed or canned (except perhaps the olives) we even make our own flour tortillas. With lard. The way God intended.
I make up a batch of this stuff about a week beforehand and we find use for it in nearly everything we make on this day of celebration and relaxation where we cook, and exalt in the best part of the Christmas season: it's end.
Serious words of warning:
It doesn't matter how slick you are with peppers. I, too, can dice up quite a few fresh peppers without making the horrible mistake that a person only discovers when they rub their eye just after dinner. Dried chiles are a wholly different monster. They are oily, they flake, they are, frankly, quite dangerous. Don't make me say I told you so, and get yourself a box of vinyl gloves from the local pharmacy for about 10 bucks.
What's more, (even though we should always taste while cooking) the ONLY way to know if you're getting this right is to taste as you go. That being said, you should prepare yourself for ingesting a lot of spicy spicy stuff. Some people use milk. I'm a firm believer that milk sold at supermarkets is poison. So I stick with actual poison and go with a bold red like Malbec or Pinot. It doesn't really kill the spice, it just makes me not care. —Michael