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Mexican Adobo Sauce

Mexican adobo sauce is an all-purpose marinade made of dried hot peppers, spices and vinegar. This sauce gives big flavor to a wide variety of dishes. Thanks to the OSU Latin Heritage Work Group for this tasty recipe.
Medium bowl of thick, red adobo sauce served with tacos.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Makes: 2 ½ cups

Ingredients

2 cups very hot water
3 ancho peppers, stems and seeds removed (see Notes)
4 guajillo peppers, stems and seeds removed
2 pasilla peppers, stems and seeds removed
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
½ cup chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, chopped
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon oregano (try Mexican oregano)
½ teaspoon each salt and pepper
½ cup vinegar (white or apple cider)
½ cup water

Directions

  1. Wash hands with soap and water.
  2. In a skillet over medium heat, dry roast the peppers for 30 to 60 seconds on each side. Put peppers into a bowl, cover with hot water and let them soak until soft, about 15 minutes. 
  3. While the peppers are soaking, heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onions until they soften, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Turn off heat.
  4. Pour vinegar and ½ cup water into a blender. Add softened peppers and onion mixture. Blend together on high speed until the mixture is smooth. Scrape the sides of the blender as needed.  Add more water, if desired, for the thickness you like.
  5. Transfer the sauce to a container and refrigerate or freeze until needed. 

Notes

  • Look for dried hot peppers in the Latin or International section of most grocery stores or in a Latin market. 
  • You can make this sauce with different dried peppers. The overall flavor and heat will depend on the types of peppers used. California, Colorado, ancho and pasilla peppers can be similarly hot though Californa and Colorado may be milder. Guajillo peppers have heat similar to chipotle peppers. Chile seco, casabel, chile de arbol and cayenne have much higher heat so substitute carefully with them. See the Hot Pepper Food Hero Monthly for more information about using dried hot peppers.
  • Use adobo sauce to marinate or stew a variety of proteins, such as chicken, pork, beef and tofu.
  • Add to flavor enchiladas, burritos, pasta, soups, beans or grains.
  • Mix with sour cream or plain yogurt for a sauce to drizzle over tacos and quesadillas.
  • Most homemade sauces are safe refrigerated for up to 4 days. The vinegar in this sauce may keep it safe in the refrigerator longer, but look carefully for signs of spoilage before using. If you notice any signs of mold, off-color or an unpleasant odor, throw away the sauce.

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