Salsa Casera(Chiltepin House Sauce)

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This diabolically hot sauce (at least a 9 on the heat scale) is also called Chiltepin pasta (paste). It is used in soups and stews and to fire up machaca, eggs, tacos, tostadas, and beans. This is the exact recipe prepared in the home of Josefina Duran in Cumpas, Sonora.


  • 2 cups Chiltepins

  • 8 to 10 cloves garlic

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano

  • 1 teaspoon coriander seed

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 cup cider vinegar


Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree on high speed for 3 to 4 minutes. Refrigerate for one day to blend the flavors. It keeps indefinitely in the refrigerator.

Capon de Ajo (chopped Garlic Soup with Chiltepins)

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This is a basic Chiltepin soup. This one is for true garlic lovers. Serve with flour tortillas.


  • Another basic Chiltepin soup. This one is for true garlic lovers!

  • 8 to 10 cloves garlic, chopped

  • 1/2 onion, chopped (optional)

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or butter

  • 4 Chiltepins (or more, to taste), crushed

  • 2 cups boiling water

  • 1 thin flour tortilla, heated on a griddle until crisp


Sauté the garlic and onion in the oil or butter until soft, then transfer to a soup bowl. Add the Chiltepins and pour in the boiling water. Break the tortilla into pieces and add it to the liquid.


Chiltepin Chorizo

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There are as many versions of chorizo in Mexico and the Southwest as there are of enchiladas. Essentially, it is a hot and spicy sausage that is served with eggs for breakfast, as a filling for tostados or tacos, or mixed with refried beans. This Sonoran version is spicier than most, and, in addition, it is served crumbled rather than being formed into patties.


  • 15 to 20 Chiltepins, crushed

  • 1 cup red New Mexican chile powder

  • 1 tablespoon chile seeds (from Chiltepins or other chiles)

  • 1 pound ground lean pork

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano

  • 3 Tablespoons white vinegar

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves


Combine the pork with the rest of the ingredients, mix well, and let it sit at room temperature for 1 or 2 hours, or in the refrigerator overnight. (It keeps well in the refigerator for up to a week. Or, freeze the chorizo in small portions and use as needed.)

Fry the chorizo until it is well-browned.


Tex-Mex Chiltepin Tequila

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Chiles and cumin combine here to create the olfactory essence of the Border. Most any type of small chile pepper that you can get in the bottle will work. Be sure to taste it often and remove the chiles when it reaches the desired heat–the longer the chiles are left in, the hotter the liquor will get!


  • 4 to 6 dried chiltepin chiles, left whole

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 liter vodka or white tequila


Place the chiles and cumin in the vodka and let them steep for a week or more. Periodically taste the liquor and remove the chiles when the desired heat has been obtained.

Serve extremely cold, over ice, or in tomato juice for an “instant” Bloody Mary or Maria. Flavored liquors are often prepared in the Southwest with sliced jalapeños.

Diced Potatoes with Chiltepins

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This recipe is extremely hot and very typical of Sonora, where people make salsa casera with 2 to 3 cups of chiltepins! Serve this with a mild fish or poultry entree. Feel free to reduce the amount of chiltepins, or to substitute 3 tablespoons chipotle powder for a milder, smokier flavor..


  • 3 tablespoons butter

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into a 1/2 inch dice

  • 5 cloves garlic

  • 1/4 cup chiltepín chiles, or subsitute piquins

  • 1 cup water

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


Heat the butter and olive oil in a large saute skillet and add the diced potatoes. Toss and turn the potatoes with a spatula for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to a simmer, add 3 tablespoons of water, and cook the potatoes at a low heat while you are making the chile sauce.

Place the garlic, peppers, water, and salt in a blender and puree thoroughly. Pour this mixture over the potatoes and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.