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Chile Grilling Sauce


Use this in place of your usual barbecue sauce or dry rub for fantastic flavor. Make sure to choose your chiles carefully. If you want a mild sauce, then choose a mild chile. The chile imparts most of the flavor and heat, so make sure it's a chile that you like. Here is an informative Guide to Red Chiles that describes some of the more popular red chiles.


  • 2 ounces of dried red chiles (use your favorite here, for a mild flavor try Anahiem or California chiles, for a little more heat try Guajillo)
  • 6 cups of hot water for soaking the chiles
  • 1 small tomato cut into chunks
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1/2 cup onion cut into chunks
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 handful of cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of grated piloncillo or brown cane sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin


Preparing the Chiles
When you buy dried chiles you will buy them in a cellophane package or on a rista ( a wreath made of chiles) and sometimes you can buy them in bulk. In either case you want to use chiles that are whole, not broken or split open. They should be tough, yet slightly bendable. Use scissors to cut the stem off of the top of the chile and then a slit down the side. Open the chile in half and shake out the seeds. Use your fingers to remove any seeds that get stuck. Repeat with each chile until all of the chiles have the stems and seeds removed. For detailed instructions here is a Tutorial that shows you a picture of each step.
After the chiles are prepared, you will fill a bowl with 6 cups of very warm tap water or drinking water that has been warmed up. Let the chiles soak in the warm water for about 30 minutes or until they are soft. You can discard the soaking water, or save it to use in a soup or to cook meat in.

Preparing the Tomato
Cut the tomato in half and cut out the stem area. Use a spoon to scrape out the seeds and liquid. Chop the remaining tomato flesh into large chunks.

Get out your blender or food processor and add in the vinegar, lemon juice, and cooking oil. Blend or process for 2-3 seconds. Add in the chiles, tomato, onion and cilantro and process for another 4-5 seconds, a little longer if using a blender. The sauce should be a bit chunky at this point. Add in the remaining ingredients and blend or process until smooth. You can add additional water by the tablespoonful of the sauce needs to be thinned for your needs. Taste the sauce and add more salt as necessary.

Using the Sauce or Marinade
Marinate beef, pork or chicken for up to 12 hours and then cook as usual, brushing on additional sauce as needed. Or just brush the sauce on during the cooking process. This sauce is excellent to brush on during grilling, such as steaks, carne asada, chicken and pork ribs. The sauce will stay good in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours.

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