Salsa Roja


The key to a great enchilada is the sauce. Mexican cooks refer to it as "gravy" and each region of Texas has its own distinct version. Salsa Roja is most common in the high desert of western Texas, where, Louis Lambert found, whole dried chiles are a mainstay. To him, this slightly sweet, richly flavored peppery sauce is the very best enchilada gravy.

Active Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
35 mins
5 cups


  • 8 large ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded

  • 1 small dried red chile, stemmed and most seeds discarded

  • 1 quart chicken stock or low-sodium broth

  • 3 plum tomatoes, chopped

  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped

  • 1 small onion, chopped

  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar


  1. In a medium saucepan, combine all of the ingredients except the cider vinegar and bring to a boil; boil for 2 minutes. Cover, remove from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Working in batches, puree the sauce in a blender. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the vinegar.

Make Ahead

The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Serve With


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