It’s possible that a good enchilada sauce will fix your problems. For example, I have had the worst case of writer’s block in the history of cook.can.read; I’ve been struggling for weeks to come up with new meal ideas and the time to sit down and write about them, or to write about anything. May has been an incredibly busy month: new projects at work, meetings and tasks for Backyard Barter, our super-fun jam contest at the Celebration of Food Festival, etc. There was a solid week when I wanted to write and had ideas and time– but the hosting site was down. But… I think I’m back! I’ll give some of the credit to a more open schedule and most to this sauce. The truth is that it’s been on or in most meals I cooked this month.

I have only been making enchilada sauce from scratch for a few months, but feel as though I have a recipe I’ll be using for years to come. After adjusting seasonings and adding a pinch of this and a knifepoint (channeling Nigel Slater) of that, I am really pleased with this version. It tastes good on everything. I mentioned that we ate a lot of enchilada sauce last month, and it wasn’t just on enchiladas; I also made some delicious chiles rellenos-inspired stuffed peppers (I will share that recipe soon) and even used the sauce to grill some portabello mushrooms one night. Stay tuned later this week (I hope) for my version of bean & cheese enchiladas, a seemingly simple meal that is so easy to make and so satisfying and tasty with this sauce. Hence my earlier declaration that enchilada sauce will fix your problems: I needed a few quick meals, enchilada sauce was there. I needed a way to make my husband happy to eat bean & cheese enchiladas instead of chicken enchiladas; this sauce was there. And I needed something to write about, to get back on track with regular posts, already…! Once again, this enchilada sauce came to my rescue. I hope you will give it a try, and I hope it solves your problems, too.

enchilada sauce

Enchilada Sauce (makes about 2 1/2 c.)

  • 2 T. chili powder
  • 2 T. flour*
  • 1 tsp. dried epazote (substitute Mexican oregano if you like)
  • 3/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. cocoa 
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 c. water
  • 1 c. tomato sauce, preferably with no salt added

In a medium-sized saucepan, whisk together the dry ingredients; add about 1/4 c. water and stir until you have a thick paste. Slowly stream in the rest of the water, whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Bring this mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to discourage burning and sticking. Allow the sauce to boil for about 2 mins. and then add the tomato sauce. Return to a boil and lower the heat to medium; simmer for about 5 mins. That’s it! Use this sauce as you would any commercial enchilada sauce. Though it is ready to go as soon as you make it, I recommend letting it sit overnight to develop flavors; it gets better and better as it sits. Store leftover sauce in the fridge in a tightly-covered container for up to 2 weeks.

*The addition of flour is intended only as a thickener; for a gluten-free version, consider substituting arrowroot or cornstarch, or perhaps leave it out altogether.