For A Richer Enchilada Sauce, Toast Your Chiles First

charred red chiles
charred red chiles - Armitage Photography Inc/Shutterstock

Not all enchiladas are created equal — often, the real difference comes down to the sauce. In order to improve your enchilada sauce, source the best types of chiles, and then be sure to get all the flavor you can out of those peppers before blending them. The best way to do that? Toast your chiles before putting them in the blender! It may sound simple, or like a small step you can easily skip, but the upgrade in flavor is so pronounced you'll be shocked at the difference once you incorporate this process. Plus, you don't even need to use a pan for this step, as long as you have a working gas stove. (If you've got an electric stove, the trick still works, but you will need to use a pan.)

To do this right, all you need is your preferred style of chiles and a minute or two of time. Turn the gas burner up to about medium heat, and use tongs to hold the dried chiles directly over the flame, toasting them one at a time for both safety and evenness of cooking. Once the chiles begin to soften and become fragrant — the smell of toasted chiles in your kitchen is a side benefit of this tip — then they're ready to be removed from the flame. You're looking for a slightly darker color of the skin, about eight to 10 seconds per side.

Read more: 26 Types Of Pasta Sauce Explained

More Tips For Improving Your Sauce Flavor

a plate of enchiladas
a plate of enchiladas - Rez-art/Getty Images

If you do have an electric stove, follow the same steps just using a pan that's been warmed over medium heat. This way, the process usually takes closer to two minutes. Once the chiles cool, they're ready to be used in whatever recipe you're using. Many chefs recommend soaking chiles in warm water, salt, and vinegar to help improve flavor. That step would come after de-stemming and de-seeding.

Holding onto that soaking liquid to incorporate back into the sauce is another pro tip, similar to the way pasta water can thin out a pasta sauce while also enhancing the flavor. One final tip: If you really want to get that fire-roasted flavor in your sauce, repeat the process with garlic, onions, and any other aromatics before blending them as well. In that situation, using your broiler and a pan to spread the ingredients out is a good technique, since holding an onion slice or garlic clove to a flame is trickier than doing it with a larger pepper.

If you have enchiladas on the docket for a meal this week, any of these hacks will have a positive effect on your sauce, although toasting the peppers will likely have the most impact. Try it with our homemade red enchilada sauce recipe — simply do the charring before the warm water soaking step.

Read the original article on Tasting Table