As gardening winds down for the season, it's time to start cooking with the produce we have preserved. Many people only use fresh chilis because they aren't sure how to work with dried chilis. I took pictures as I made an enchilada sauce this weekend.
First you want to wash the dried chilis to remove any dust that may have settled on them, break the tops off and remove the seeds. Make sure you wear rubber gloves while you are doing this. Then place in a pot and cover with water with several cloves of garlic. How much water to use depends on the heat of your chilis and how hot you want the finished sauce. If you have really hot chilis - use more water for a milder sauce and less for a really hot sauce. If your chilis are not as hot, use less water - you really need to experiment to find the right taste since tastes vary so much. I have a young child in the household so I make a more mild sauce. My chilis were pretty hot and I used 12 chilis and 4 quarts of water. Bring to a boil.
When it comes to a boil, cover and turn off. Allow to sit and steep for several hours.
The next step is another one that varies by how hot you want the finished product. I am going for a very mild sauce so I use a slotted spoon and remove the chilis and garlic from the water and I'm left with a milder chili sauce. Before I had a child in the household I made a hotter sauce by putting on rubber gloves and putting my hands into the water (make sure it has cooled!) and squishing the chilis to remove lots of hot goodness into the water. You can also use a blender or a food processor. The way I do it provides a very mild sauce.
At this point, freeze the extra chili water that you aren't going to use right away. I prefer to freeze in glass - if you do, make sure you leave enough headroom - they will expand and you don't want the jars to break.
To make red sauce - melt lard or shortening in a skillet.
Add a couple of tablespoons of flour to the lard (I used gf flour since we are a gluten free household).
Stir like you would if you were making a brown gravy.
Add the chili water and whisk until smooth and cook until thick.
You can use the sauce now for enchiladas or tamales or anything that calls for a red chili sauce.
When I'm making enchiladas I stir (fake) sour cream (we're also dairy free) into the sauce before pouring it over the enchiladas.
Here is my son's plate with a finished enchilada on it. They were super yummy even if they were mild.
To make enchiladas - just soften corn tortillas in hot oil. Fill with your choice of filling (I used shredded chicken, onions and fake cheese) and roll up. Place in pan and spoon enchilada sauce over them. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 to 30 minutes or until heated through.