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
   Print This Recipe

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.


    Balsamic Butter Braised Onions

    Balsamic Butter Roasted Onions

    It rained. When the rain cleared it was really just a tease— the next wave of clouds would roll over the mountain tops and into the valley and the rain would start again. The second storm was drearier than the first and we took cover in our cars and tents, waiting hopefully for the skies to clear. 

    Balsamic Butter Roasted Onions

    After a summer of salads and gazpachos and cheese plates, this weather gave me cause to crave warmth: soup, stew, roasted veggies, tea. Hearty dishes that warm you in one bite were on my mind.  

    These braised onions go well with a side of steak, or a roasted chicken breast. They taste good folded into eggs, and pair perfectly with a rainy day. What goes in the oven as crispy and sharp comes out melted and buttery; rich and satisfying.  

    When the pitter patter on our windows started to slow, it left thoughts of warmth behind. Wet socks and cold fingers were begging for a plate of something steaming.  

    Balsamic Butter Roasted Onions
    Balsamic Butter Roasted Onions

    Balsamic Butter Braised Onions

    Paleo, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free    |       |    Print This Recipe

    Onions transform into an ingredient to be remembered when braised!

    Serves: 4   |    Total Time:


    • 1 onion
    • 4 tablespoons butter
    • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    • 1 small clove garlic
    • Salt & Pepper
    • 2 springs rosemary


    1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Half the onion, and remove it’s papery skin. Slice the onion into wedges.
    2. Lay the onion wedges in a single layer in a baking dish.
    3. Mince garlic. Place butter, garlic, and balsamic vinegar in a small sauce pan and heat over low heat until butter is melted. Stir, and then drizzle mixture over onions.
    4. Sprinkle onions with rosemary, salt, & pepper. Place in over and bake for 30 minutes, or until onions are softened through and are beginning to brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes.


    Harissa Goat Shanks with Carrots, Tomatoes, & Butternut Puree (Paleo)

    I have a love-hate relationship with our pressured cooker. It may be energy efficient and convenient, but as soon as it's closed, it's closed. There's no peeking in. There's no poking the food for doneness. There's no turning back. It drives me nuts. If you're like Oliver, and speed is the trump-all factor, a pressure cooker is your dream. If you're like me, and you want to watch your food the entire time it cooks, a pressure cooker might just drive you crazy. There's no finesse. No way to tweak as you go. Really, you have to let go of your inner control freak and let the machine do the cooking. 

    No wonder it drive me nuts. 

    Despite how much I despise the process, I admit that the pressure cooker might be the most useful kitchen appliance we have. Our Instant Pot looks like R2D2, minus the "arms". ...If those are arms… See: 

    Twins. Sort of. Long lost cousins? They're related somehow. 

    Anyways, the Instant Pot is a pressure cooker/slow cooker hybrid. Here's where the love comes in. One of the best things about this little robot is it allows us to start a meal in the morning, go climbing all day, and come home to a warm homemade meal that would have taken hours to make otherwise. So while we're out playing, the Instant Pot is chugging away, making pretty much any sort of meat fall-off the bone tender. We get home, serve it up, and I take all the credit. See why this thing is gaining my affections? 

    The view from Central Flatirons, our go-to spot for day trip climbing.

    When you're tired and hungry, everything tastes good. This Harissa Goat Shank, however, tastes amazing whether you're tired or not. A knife is not necessary--after 4 hours in R2D2, a fork is all you need to pull off succulent pieces of meat from these goat shanks. In fact, I think I ate this entire meal with the spoon that was sitting in front of me when I served the dish. 

     The bold flavor of Harissa gives the shanks flavor without over shadowing the goat, which is a surprisingly subtle meat. The tomatoes and carrots are sweet, especially after a day of stewing. It's the sort of dish that takes your mouth halfway across the world and back, conjuring up visions of the middle east. It's the sort of meal you want to make again, the very next day. 

    Harissa Goat Shank with Tomatoes & Carrots over Butternut Purée

    2 tablespoons coconut oil

    1 medium onion, diced

    2 young goat shanks

    Homemade Tunisian-Style Harissa (recipe follows)

    4 ripe roma tomatoes, diced

    6 garlic cloves, minced

    2 large carrots, diced

    Salt & pepper

    1/4 cup dry red wine

    1/2 cup bone broth

    1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced. 

    Homemade Tunisian-Style Harissa

    1 ounce guajillo chilies (roughly 4-5 dried chilies)


    1/2 teaspoon coriander

    1/4 teaspoon cumin

    1/4 teaspoon caraway 

    1 garlic clove

    1/2 teaspoon sea salt

    2 tablespoons avocado oil or melted coconut oil


    Make the harissa: Soak the chilies in water over night (or cheat: place the chilies in a microwave safe contain full of water and put in the microwave until the water boils and the chilies are soft. Drain the softened chilies, and place in a blender with the remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth. Store in air-tight container. 

    For the goat: Turn your slow cooker on low and heat the coconut oil in the bottom of the bowl. Add the onions. 

    While the onions brown, prepare the goat--peel and trim away any leathery membrane and patches of fat. Goat is a very lean meat so don't concern yourself with peeling off everything (some of that fat will add good flavor). Rub the prepared shanks down with Harissa sauce, and then place in the bottom of the slow cooker to brown. Turn the shanks after a few minutes and brown the other side. 

    Add the wine to the pot, along with the broth. Scatter the diced tomatoes, minced garlic, and carrots around the pot. Add salt and pepper. Close the slow cooker and set it for 4 hours. 

    When the slow cooker is almost done, steam the butternut squash in a steam basket for 8 minutes. (TIP: Alternatively, before you start the slow cooker, simply leave the butternut squash in two halves, place a steam basket OVER the goat shanks in the slow cooker, and put the butternut squash in the basket.  When the goat is done, the squash will be too!). Mash the squash with a potato masher or in a blender. 

    To serve, spread a scoop of squash on a plate, top with a shank. Then drizzle with the softened carrots, tomatoes, and pan sauce.