First, for non New Mexicans: Green chile sauce is to green chile what pasta sauce is to tomatoes: it's a culinary creation, not a raw ingredient saucified. Why green chile? Because I am a New Mexican. Green chile is a pretty big deal here in our state, sort of what cheese is to Wisconsin. Most everything you order at a New Mexican restaurant (not to be confused with a Mexican restaurant), from huevos rancheros to chile rellenos to enchiladas, is slathered in a thick, savory, garlicky green chile sauce. Unless you order red. Which would make you evil and wrong, because red chile sauce tastes like dirt.
As good as El Pinto's sauce is, however, we were going through four jars a week at like $5 a jar, and it suddenly occurred to me: I am a pretty good cook. Why am I buying something I could make? I looked at the El Pinto label: pretty much tomatoes, onions, garlic, and green chile. I didn't look up a recipe, I just went with that, and decided I'd fiddle with it till I had it right.
|Frozen is nice if you can find it; canned works OK, too|
Some people are no doubt scoffing at the "mild." I like hot foods, but green chile actually has a lovely flavor that's lost when it's too hot. So for the sauce (which is about flavor, not merely heat), I deliberately selected a mild variety.
I sauteed the onions and garlic until they were fragrant, added the tomatoes, added the green chile, and let it sozzle. It's been sitting there for about a half-hour and it tastes great already, but it's going to need a bit more time to break down. I've been adding chicken broth to make up for the evaporation from cooking: vegetarians can use veg broth or water.
|Mine's on the left, El Pinto's is on the right|
A more serious test: I asked my kids to do a blind taste test. My son liked my version better, hands-down. My daughter looked skeptical, because "green chile is not my favorite thing." But she was game. Result: she also preferred my version. Also, she actually ate the entire bowl. Of sauce! Just gobbled it up with a spoon, by itself. She made several appreciative noises and then said, "That was surprisingly yummy."