When crisp mornings arrive and temperatures start to dip at night, it’s time for Chile Colorado! This is not your classic “Texas” chili (note the spelling difference) with its tomato base (and no beans). Chile Colorado translates to red chile sauce and that’s just what it is, with its color derived from a blend of dried chiles. When you see this on a Mexican or Tex-Mex menu, it’s served con carne. I’ve added stew beef chunks to this recipe, but almost any type of meat will do.
Traditionally, it’s a Mexico-Texas border favorite, at one time moving northward into El Paso with vaqueros along the cattle driving trail. Chile Colorado keeps its border distinction with beef (not pork) and the robust flavors of ancho, guajillo and pasilla pepper blends. While the trail versions relied less on heat, I can’t resist throwing in a handful of chile de arbol to suit our own tastes. If you like, add stewed tomatoes or tomato sauce to reduce the pungency these peppers deliver to your taste buds.
Typically, dried peppers are expensive in grocery stores. We frequent a tiny Mexican market for the real bargains. The variety of peppers, fruits and veggies is amazing, along with the aromas. I highly recommend scouting out the smaller shops. You’ll make new discoveries with every visit.
You may find this recipe listing pork in many places. Chile Colorado really calls for beef while pork is simply better with a verde sauce that’s heavier on tomatillos. However, if you wish, try it with pork. When it has simmered for a few hours, it will be ready to serve over rice folded inside a heated tortilla. The rehydrated pepper concentrate becomes even more enjoyable as it absorbs into the rice and tortillas. That’s all there is to it!
For 12 tortillas (can serve 6 with sides)
½ medium onion, diced (for sauce)
4 ancho chiles
4 guajillo chiles
4 pasilla chiles
6 chile de arbol peppers (optional for heat)
3 cups reserved strained liquid from rehydrated chiles
2-3 tablespoons oil
2 pounds cubed beef (any type cut into small bite-sized pieces)
½ medium onion, diced (for beef and stock)
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
1½ teaspoons oregano
½ teaspoon cumin
Salt & pepper to taste
16 ounces beef broth
2 cups water (+ 2 more as it cooks down)
2-3 cups rice (after cooking)
12 flour tortillas
Rinse dried chiles and remove stems; shake out seeds if desired.
Fill a large pot with water, add diced onion, and bring to boil.
Reduce heat and add chiles.
Simmer for 3 hours.
Remove chiles and strain/reserve liquid – yield: 3.5 cups.
Place all peppers in a food processor or blender with 1-2 cups liquid.
Process to a paste, adding liquid as needed.
Strain into large bowl – yield: 2 cups after straining.
In a crockpot or stovetop pot, add the beef and brown.in hot oil.
Add onions and cook until just translucent.
Coat with cumin, crushed garlic and oregano.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Add reserved liquid, beef broth and water.
Simmer for 3-5 hours until meat is tender.
Prepare rice, heat tortillas and serve.
Note, you can also make burritos with this filling, bake them and then serve.