Monday, November 8, 2010

Mofo - Day 8 - Chile Arbol

Chile Arbol means tree-like in Spanish. The stems on the dried chiles resembles tree branches. You can occasionally find them in their fresh form. They will be green and about 2-3 inches long. Most commonly they are found in their dried form. They are beautiful and bright red. They are often used to make decorative items, especially Southwestern themed Christmas decorations. They are distantly related to cayenne and pack a bit of heat, rating 15,000 to 30,000 on the Scoville Index.

This light tomato sauce is wonderful over dishes that you don't want to overpower. The inspiration for this sauce comes from a divey little taco shop here in Phoenix. They are anything but vegan. They served a sauce similar to this over their Chiles Rellenos. While it was always a health risk to eat there, this sauce was worth the risk. I don't think I have it nailed exactly the way theirs was made, but I think you will like it for something different and lighter.

Southwestern Fresh Tomato Sauce

1/2 onion, roughly chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chili oil
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon mexican oregano
3 medium tomatoes cut in medium chunks (about 8 per tomato)
2 dried chile arbol
1 cup vegetable broth
salt and pepper to taste

In medium saucepan over medium heat, heat oil and add onions a garlic. Heat until garlic is fragrant and onions are just slightly softened, 1-2 minutes. Add Mexican oregano, tomatoes, and chili Arbol. Stir and saute for another minute. Add 1 cup vegetable broth. Bring mixture to a gentle boil. Turn down to a simmer and simmer for about 30 minutes. Using immersion blender, food processor or blender, blend until mixture is mixed but still a bit chunky. If you like a smoother sauce, feel free to puree. Add salt and pepper to taste.

I used a locally produced chili oil from Queen Creek Olive farm. You can see the Chile Arbol pictured here as well.

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