Red Chili Enchilada Sauce

Red Chili Enchilada Sauce

This is a bit of a teaser for what’s to come on Thursday — for simplicity sake, I wanted to break out the instructions for the sauce and another recipe (plus, there are plenty of ways to use this sauce!). And no… enchiladas are not on the docket! (Though that reminds me I should make some enchiladas soon). In any case, my lips are sealed. You’ll see Thursday’s recipe soon enough!

I first “dared” to make my own enchilada sauce while I was working in a restaurant in college. I was not the saucier, or anything close to it — more like waitress that occasionally helped with some baking - but when I was baking, I would watch the happenings of the kitchen while I slowly stirred a caramel, weighed flours, or chilled dough. It just so happened that my station was right next to the saucier, and that is what gave me the confidence to make this sauce.

Red Chili Enchilada Sauce

First, I realized that the marvelous sauce that was used for braising pork was as simple as puréeing some select ingredients in the blender — and then, I realized that said sauce was pretty darn close to enchilada sauce. I did a little bit of reading and next thing you know I was blending enchilada sauce every week (even without the blender lid on one time… but we’ll save that messy story for another time).

You can use this sauce for oh so many more things than enchiladas (though using it in these leftover turkey enchiladas is perfect). In fact, I started using it to braise beef (Oofta! That recipe is old — please forgive those grainy photos. Oh what a difference three years makes), but now I’m much more into making enchilada casseroles or huevos rancheros with salsa rojo.

Sauce is the start of many a great dish. More sauce! If any of you have ever watched Chopped, you know the judges are always talking about sauce, and with good reason. 😋

Red Chili Enchilada Sauce

Red Chili Enchilada Sauce

Published September 25, 2018 by
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Serves: 2 cups   |    Active Time: 20 minutes


  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 sixteen-oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup broth (chicken, beef or veggie)
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cracked pepper

  • Directions:

    1. Heat coconut oil over medium-high heat in a skillet on the stove. When the oil glistens, add onion and garlic and sauté until onions are transparent and starting to brown. Remove from heat.
    2. In a blender (I use a Blendtec - affiliate link!), combine onions and garlic, diced tomatoes, broth, chili powder, cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper. Secure lid on blender and purée.
    3. Use sauce immediately or store in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to a week.


    Hazelnut Cumin Orange Crusted Rack of Lamb (Paleo)

    I went through a phase of not eating lamb. I was ten or eleven years old, and had spent the summer chasing my Grandmother's lambs around the farm. The still had tails. They always seemed happy. I named them all. My appetite for anything lamb was spoiled for years. 

    Thank goodness that phase is over--these hazelnut crusted lamb ribs aren't just elegant and rustic; they're rich, tender and marbled, and good in that way that only meat on the bone can be. Meat on the bone is just extra somehow, with more flavor than boneless cuts. 

    Racks of lamb are particularly good because they are simply stunning. They stand up of their own, casting long shadows on the table and calling for a bite. And since we eat with our eyes, they steal the show in every way possible. Toasted hazelnuts provide a crunch crust to this rack of lamb, and fresh orange zest keep it bright tasting. 

    Since this rack was a bit "blue" when I sliced it, I laid each rib individually on the cooking pan, and returned them to the oven under the broiler. After no more than a minute, they were sizzling on the outside. 

    While racks of lamb are usually a Christmas or Easter dish, this pairing of hazelnut, orange and cumin makes it feel like a perfect dish for the new year: winter citrus, warm nuts, a cumin zest. Served with garlic roasted carrots and rosemary garlic cauliflower mashers, this makes a filling meal perfect for entertaining or just eating on a night in! 

    Hazelnut Cumin Orange Crusted Rack of Lamb

    1 pound rack of lamb

    3 tablespoons coconut oil, at room temperature

    1 tablespoon avocado oil

    1/4 cup hazelnuts

    5 garlic cloves

    zest of 3 oranges

    1 tablespoon cumin

    1/2 teaspoon salt

    1/4 teaspoon black pepper


    1. Pre heat the oven to 450°F. Remove the silverskin from the lamb (the thin layer of white over the bone side of the meat). Trim off extra fat. 

    2. In a food processor, combine the garlic, hazelnuts, orange zest, salt, pepper, cumin, and avocado oil. Pulse until a course meal forms. 

    3. Use your hands to rub the rack of lamb with the coconut oil. Press the hazelnut mixture onto the meat in an even layer. 

    4. Lay the lamb meat-side down on a cooking pan. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until a meat themometer inserted into the middle reads 145°F for medium-rare, or 170°F for well done. 

    5. Remove the meat from the oven, and allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving. 


    Garlic Roasted Carrots:

    5 large carrots

    2 cloves garlic

    Salt & pepper to taste

    1 tablespoon avocado oil


    1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. 

    2. Mince the garlic. Chop the carrots into evenly sized pieces. Toss the carrots and garlic with the oil, salt, and pepper. Spread into an even layer in a baking dish.

    3. Cook for 30-40 minutes, until carrots are tender all the way through and golden on the edges.


    Rosemary Garlic Cauliflower Mashers

    1 pound cauliflower florets

    1 teaspoon garlic, minced and sautéed until golden

    1 teaspoon coconut oil

    2 tablespoons coconut milk

    1 teaspoon rosemary

    Salt & pepper to taste


    1. Steam the cauliflower until tender. 

    2. Add cooked cauliflower, garlic, oil, milk, and rosemary to a blender. Puree until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

    3. Serve warm.