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Is There a Difference between Tamale Sauce and Enchilada Sauce?

Perilagu Khan Aug 3, 2010 09:35 AM

At a resto in New Mexico I had tamales that were topped by a thin, smooth sauce which strongly resembled enchilada sauce, or what we call ranchero sauce here in Texas. Is it likely that this sauce was indeed enchilada sauce, or is it common to make a different type of sauce for tamales?

Gracias.

  1. o
    ohakkila Aug 27, 2012 10:54 AM

    Hi,

    I grew up eating New Mexican tamales and, though, I haven't made them, I have a strong suspicion that the red sauce is made using hatch red chile powder instead of the dried chile. That's why it's so smooth - it's from a powder and not pureed.

    Here's the chile powder I'm talking about:

    http://www.madeinnewmexico.com/hatchc...

    Hope that helps!

    3 Replies
    1. re: ohakkila
      HoundDogz Aug 28, 2012 01:58 PM

      Thank you. I see during summer Albertson's pushes the sale of hatch chiles. I was not sure what they are buy they promote them big time. I should look into that. Thanks.

      1. re: HoundDogz
        gingershelley Aug 28, 2012 05:33 PM

        Hounddogz, I just got a case of roasted Hatch (hot) from my local Albertson's last Saturday when the roaster came to my local store.

        They are a wonderful, full flavored green chili, that looks an Anahiem. Here they had medium and hot for sale.

        I have never seen them ripened to red here (SEA), nor the Hatch chili powder, but am sure you could order it online if wanted.

      2. re: ohakkila
        Perilagu Khan Aug 29, 2012 05:56 AM

        You're almost certainly correct.

      3. toodie jane Jun 5, 2011 07:19 PM

        I like tamales with salsa fresca and a dab of sour cream. No napping sauce needed. To me, sauce on tamales is like frosting on brownies: hiding dryness.

        3 Replies
        1. re: toodie jane
          HoundDogz Jun 6, 2011 12:30 AM

          Okay, check this video out and see the Bombero sauce that the lady is making towards the end of the video. It's the stuff they are putting on the burrito. This is the stuff that my tamales have when I get them from this great tamale place in Pocoima. I couldn't figure it out but found this and this looks just like it -

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwTRmp...

          1. re: HoundDogz
            alkapal Jun 6, 2011 05:36 AM

            thanks for that video -- i'm also happy to know DD&D is on youtube. i always get hungry watching that show!

            ~~~~~~~
            by the way, i think that javier reyes' post from august 2010 (above) is worthy of the weekly chow digest! i found it very informative -- and it made *sense* to me as a novice in mexican food.

            1. re: alkapal
              toodie jane Jun 6, 2011 09:51 AM

              another endorsement

        2. letsindulge Jun 5, 2011 01:12 PM

          My tamale sauce is thickened with a roux, and enchilada sauce not.

          1 Reply
          1. re: letsindulge
            HoundDogz Jun 5, 2011 01:31 PM

            I think I figured out what I need for my tamale sauce. It's called Bombero Sauce. That's exactly what I want and I found a recipe for it. Thanks.

          2. HoundDogz May 24, 2011 09:47 AM

            I know this is an old posting that I'm replying to. Recently I started making tamales, just a couple of weeks ago but been a long time fan of them. I made chicken with green or verde sauce out of tamatillos. Was so good. Now I'm off to make beef with red sauce. I had some so-called gourmet tamales the other day and they were so good. So now I tried to make some red tamale sauce recipe via some recipes from the Internet and they were good for what they were but not the red sauce I had with my gourmet tamales. What you describe as the sauce you ate with yours in NM is a great description of what I had on mine. Since the red tamale sauce I tried to make was not right I started to think the sauce they used was enchilada sauce but modified. Did not taste like straight on enchilada sauce but something similar. So now I am doing searching on enchilada sauce. I found your posting here about tamale vs enchilada sauce. I see from a later post you made a good sauce. Would you please share your recipe but not so hot version? I like spicy but not to the point all it taste is hot. Thanks much!

            1. j
              javier.reyes Aug 3, 2010 09:13 PM

              Authentically speaking, the is no one single enchilada sauce. Any pureed salsa recipe can be used to coat a tortilla and form an enchilada. What most Americans think of enchilada sauce is actually a variation on a salsa roja used to make Enchiladas Rojas.

              When it comes to tamales, apart from some regional variations, they usually are not served with sauce on top; this is more of a Tex-Mex thing. Tamal fillings, on the other hand, are often made with reduced salsas.

              All salsas are defined by their ingredients and not their use. Some traditional dishes DO have a traditional salsa recipe though like My favorite enchiladas, Enchiladas Suizas. Take a tomatillo salsa, fresh or jarred, mix with some fresh crema or sour cream, use to coat warmed tortillas, stuff with chicken or cheese, top with more sauce and cheese and broil till melty.

              7 Replies
              1. re: javier.reyes
                Perilagu Khan Aug 4, 2010 07:07 AM

                The tamales I have in mind were actually from Chope's in La Mesa, New Mexico just south of Las Cruces. The sauce--far more like an enchilada sauce than any salsa--was unique and sublime. I suspect they used an unusual powdered chile rather than the chile powder typically used to make enchilada sauce.

                PS--I made a tamale/enchilada sauce last night with veg. oil, flour, garlic powder, salt, beef stock and powdered chile de arbol, and it was very good. Much hotter than your typical tamale/enchilada sauce, however.

                1. re: Perilagu Khan
                  paulj Aug 4, 2010 09:09 AM

                  Sounds like a chile flavored gravy.

                  1. re: paulj
                    Perilagu Khan Aug 4, 2010 11:25 AM

                    Yep. Looks like it, too.

                  2. re: Perilagu Khan
                    Caroline1 Aug 28, 2012 03:21 PM

                    Chope's has their own family recipe for everything they serve. It's why you have to stand in line so often! Sauce on tamales is very much a regional thing in the American southwest. In El Paso, a "Spanish" sauce of tomatoes and onions, sometimes with celery in it, was popular. Here in Dallas, chile con carne is a favored topping. (yuck!) Whether eating in or taking out, I usually ask for "bare naked tamales with some salsa on the side." The liquid from the salsa makes a nice moistener if the tamales are dry. But I don't order tamales often. I'm from California, and these Texas and New Mexico tamales where they skimp seriously on filling are always disappointing. Always!

                    And WHY am I participating in a two year old thread??????? This is happening a LOT lately!!! We must have rampant archive raiders among us....

                    1. re: Caroline1
                      Perilagu Khan Aug 29, 2012 05:53 AM

                      I, too, find that salsa on tamales works well. And I agree that chile con carne on tamales is abominable. I also agree that the virtually unfilled tamales are irritating.

                      1. re: Caroline1
                        j
                        Jackie007 Aug 30, 2012 02:20 AM

                        And now I need to go to Chopes to try their tamales to compare the sauce to the enchiladas...not that I really need an excuse. It's a fun ride down Rt. 28 on my Vespa.

                        1. re: Jackie007
                          Perilagu Khan Aug 30, 2012 06:50 AM

                          Assuming 007 refers to James Bond, you really need to read Ian Fleming's The Spy Who Loved Me. You will never again see your Vespa in the same way.

                  3. bushwickgirl Aug 3, 2010 12:37 PM

                    Red tamale and red enchilada sauces are seemingly very similar; sometimes the addition of tomatoes to the tamale sauce, and maybe a little oregano, is the only difference I've come across. But then, enchilada sauce sometimes has tomatoes in it. It seems that
                    it's what your momma made before you and/or up to the chef du jour.

                    The recipe I concocted, containing mostly anchos, a few pasilla or guajillos thrown in, or New Mexican chiles or japones, a chipotle for smoky heat, garlic, onions, cumin, chicken or pork stock, etc, can be used for tamales, enchiladas or even chilaquiles; a true multi- tasking sauce. One sauce, many dishes, yippee.

                    De nada.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: bushwickgirl
                      Perilagu Khan Aug 3, 2010 02:12 PM

                      Yeah, I've pretty much arrived at the same conclusion. There probably is no hard/fast distinction between a tamale sauce and an enchilada sauce.

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