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May 12, 2007 09:21 PM

Enchilada Sauce... with tomatoes?

I had asked this question in another thread, but it was deleted by the powers on high.

I never use tomatoes in enchilada sauce. It's a chile sauce- not a tomato sauce.

My typical sauce (depending on the time of year) is dried ancho chilis toasted in a bare cast-iron skillet, then soaked. Add roasted whatever's in season, puree, strain through chinois to get the skins and the seeds, add spices and simmer.

But no tomatoes! Is this a common 'stretch' or shortcut?

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  1. You are correct. My years in a Mexican restaurant taught me that some of the only things folks with a tomato allergy could get were enchiladas. Our guys used a combination of chiles and mexican chocolate, as well as a variety of other things.

    1. Diana Kennedy, The Tortilla Book, has recipes for
      Swiss chard enchiladas - sauce made from tomatoes, garlic, onion, chipotles
      Enchiladas from Fresnillo - ancho sauce (and sesame seeds, peanuts)
      Red enchiladas - anchos, milk, egg yolk
      Green enchiladas - poblanos, romaine
      Enchiladas from Zacatecas - anchos, romaine
      Chili and egg enchiladas - pasillas, anchos, eggs
      Enchilada from Yucatan - anchos, tomato
      Green enchiladas - tomatillos, serranos, coriander
      Enfrijoladas - bean puree
      Tomato enchiladas - tomatoes, thyme, serranos
      Entomatados - tomatoes (no chiles)
      and more (33 pages total)


      1. In searching on google for enchilada sauce recipes I find a fairly large number that contain some sort of tomato product. Its certainly not universal and probably not the majority, but definitely frequent. Most of the recipes I see I wouldn't classify as a tomato sauce at all, tomatoes seem to be an accent ingredient.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ccbweb

          We use roasted tomatoes as a base...

        2. I'm having trouble finding anything online without tomatoes. Certainly the better Mexican restaurants don't use them in chile colorado. This afternoon I whipped up something in a hurry that turned out ok, but I didn't follow a recipe or keep track of the amounts. It was something like this: make a roux with flour & olive oil, adding a lot of ground red chile into the roux. Spice with black pepper, cumin, oregano, minced garlic. Stir in chicken broth until the consistency is right. Sometimes I'll do something like this for a mole, leaving out the oregano & garlic, but adding some Ibarra chocolate and a bit of chipotle pepper.

          1. As others noted... tomatoes are an ingredient (of various importance) in various legitimate Enchilada sauces. By my experience (both eating in town mercados, people's homes & reading whether in cheap Mexico based cooking magazines that devote entire issues to a particular type of book... or the well written "Foreigner's view Anthropological" cookbooks from people like Kennedy and Bayless or the more Academic & Empirical volumes such as the Larousse, the CONCACULTA or the Ricardo Munoz Zurita stuff... there are about 200 distinct, regional, thoroughly entrenched (i.e., its not just some restaurant's or family's recipe) Enchilada Sauce styles throughout Mexico... and they range the gamut and might include some very surprising ingredients.

            Enchiladas Rancheras basically feature bright acidic Tomatoes common in the Altiplano Central... where you will also commonly find Enchiladas Placeras that are almost straight Guijillos with just a little accent of garlic & spices... as well as Creamy Green Enchiladas.