Sunday, September 18, 2011

Red Chili Sauce Redo Take 1

This morning I woke up with a craving for huevos rancheros. Not just any huevos rancheros, but MY huevos rancheros. You see, even though I originally grew up on the East Coast, I was exposed to a ton of really awesome Mexican food. My father grew up on the border of Arizona and Mexico and was always searching for the best Mexican food he could find. My mother was an awesome cook, so I was exposed to it both at home and when we went out to eat. There was this one place that had the most unbelievable red chili sauce, which they smothered anything and everything in. The little hole in the wall place was called Anita's, and if you're ever in Northern Virginia, you'll find a string of these little restaurants. They are always crowded and the food is always worth the wait.

Anyhow, I ended up in the Midwest, far from Anita's and all good things Mexican. So I spent years searching for the perfect recipe and finally found it. I have made my own red chili sauce for ages, but alas, it's got flour in it, so it isn't exactly Paleo-friendly. I'm not a purist, I know that sometimes we have to compromise, but if there's a way I can use some alternative thickeners to make it Paleo, I'm game. Today and tried and had mixed results. I can reproduce the taste just fine, but the wonderful texture may take a few tries.

Here's the original recipe:

Kim's Red Chili Sauce

2/3 cup flour
2/3 cup olive oil
4 tsp cumin
1/2-2/3 cup chili powder (buy the big canisters at Sam's and this sauce is very cheap!)
8 cups water or beef broth (can also use bouillon cubes)
4 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp or less of sea salt, Real Salt or kosher salt
2 tsp oregano

1. Mix flour and oil in sauce pan over medium heat. Stir until smooth.
2. Add cumin and chili powder, stir, add water or beef broth.
3. Add remaining ingredients.
4. Simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently until sauce is thick enough to coat the back of your mixing spoon.

Note: Makes 8 cups of red chili sauce, which is enough for 4 family sized meals (or three if you like to really slop on the sauce.) I freeze it in 2-cup portions. It's great on eggs, meat, and well, everything else too!

Redo Attempt: 

1 cup pork drippings and "deglazing" from a dish I made recently
4 tsp cumin
1/2 cup chili powder
7 cups water and a few beef bouillon cubes (I know, not-so-Paleo but I didn't have anything else on hand!)
4 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp salt of choice
2 tsp oregano
4 tbsp arrowroot powder mixed in a little cold water

1. Heat up pork drippings and juices, throw all dry ingredients in.
2. Mix the arrowroot with the cold water and add.
3. Add water and bouillon cubes.
4. Heat to boiling and let simmers for 10 minutes.

Problem: The sauce tasted great but wasn't thick at all. I may have needed more arrowroot powder, but that stuff isn't cheap! I probably needed double of what I had. I just happened to have some on hand so I thought I'd try it. Will have to learn more about low carb sauces and try again.

(Another thought: perhaps I just need to get back to the basics and cook the actual chili peppers in a crockpot and then puree them for a thicker sauce. Pretty old school, but I bet that's how it was originally done. I'm always looking for simpler, faster, cheaper. Perhaps that way to solve this is to go back to an original, old timey recipe to see what they did rather than using chili powder. This was done with mole sauce here:

I still smothered my eggs in it, along with a piece of leftover pork loin and some spaghetti squash. Strange combination, but not bad. I miss my beans and tortillas! What the heck do you substitute for beans anyhow? Perhaps I'll cook up some winter squash of some kind next time. All in all it wasn't bad. It satified my craving, kind of. Not to be deterred, I threw the rest of the sauce into the crockpot with some boneless skinless chicken I got on a good sale this week ($1.58 a pound! Not free range, working on finding sources for that locally) I'm sure it'll be delish!

Some pages I found on low carb sauces and gravies, worth a look:

Update: I added 4 more tsp of arrowroot while the chili sauce was in the crockpot with the chicken. It never did thicken up but tasted FANTASTIC with my naked chicken enchiladas. We scarfed them down before I could take a picture of them, but there are leftovers! I will dress them up for the camera soon! ;)

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