Red Chile Catsup (makes about 2 cups)

This was originally part of a recipe for grilled steaks (Gourmet, 2003), billed as a sauce. Friends of ours who were staying with us before they moved away from Pittsburgh cooked it for us one night and I loved it then and periodically make it when I’m feeling sorry for myself.

But it’s so much more than a sauce for steak –it’s a catsup that can be more or less fiery, depending on your love of heat. It can be a bit time-consuming, especially the first time around, but it freezes well, so you can either double the recipe or freeze the leftovers if you can refrain from eating it with scrambled eggs the next day.

Red Chile Catsup

3 oz. dried guajillo chiles (I like ancho chiles in this, also)

4 C. boiling water

1 12 oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained, seeded, chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1 t. cumin seeds, toasted and ground (or not — I’ve made it without grinding when I was lazy and it was fine)

3/4 t. dried oregano

1 t. salt

2 T. butter, unsalted

1 1/2 T. flour

1 t. cider vinegar

Rinse chiles and remove stems, seeds, and ribs. Cut into one-inch pieces. Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium heat and then toast the chiles in batches, turning them once (about 20 seconds per side). Transfer to bowl and pour boiling water over them. Soak and do something else for at least 20 minutes (sometimes I do this part in the morning).

Drain the chiles, reserving 2 cups of liquid. I think there’s something wrong with me because in my haste to drain, I sometimes forget to save the liquid. So consider this a reminder to myself.

Puree chiles with reserved liquid (be careful if the liquid is still hot). Force puree through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing on it and discarding the solids. I guess you can run it through a food mill, but I’ve never done that and I suspect you want to get rid of the coarser bits.

Cook garlic, cumin, oregano, and salt in butter in a 4-quart heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring for about a minute. Add flour and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Whisk in chile minute and simmer, whisking now and then, until reduced to about 2 1/2 C, maybe 2o minutes. Adde vinegar and salt to taste.


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