“Ranch” Sauce

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

This is a good basic tomato sauce used for "Ranch Eggs" (huevos rancheros) or for seasoning shredded meat that is to be used in tacos, etc. More or fewer chiles serranos may be used to taste since some new varieties are not as picante as their smaller, narrower, older cousins.

This sauce will keep for several days in the refrigerator, depending on how hot and humid the weather is. You can freeze it (you will have to blend it again once it has defrosted), but it is not at its best then.

NotesMethod: Heat a carnal (griddle) over medium heat-c-it must not be too hot, or the chiles will burn and make the sauce bitter-and press the chile, inside down, on the carnal as flat as possible. Leave for about 3 seconds, turn over, and repeat on the second side or until the inside flesh turns an opaque, tobacco brown-s-about 3 seconds (if the chile is fairly moist, it will blister, but that is not the sign). Remove, cover with hot water, and leave to soak for about 15 minutes.

Asado (broiled, grilled, or charred on a comal): This method is used for many rustic table sauces that are uncooked, as well as for some of the cooked tomato sauces. The tomatoes are placed whole on an ungreased comal and cooked over medium heat until the skin is deep brown with charred patches and the flesh mushy. Some cooks skin them, but it adds to the flavor and texture if the skin is left on.

Tomatoes prepared in this way give the sauces a very special depth of flavor and sweetness. It is also a good method to use when tomatoes are in season and you want to store them for sauces during the winter. Choose the ripest and broil them in the following way: Line a shallow pan into which the whole tomatoes will just fit (not too large, or the juice will dry up) and broil 2 inches (5 cm) from the heat, turning them from time to time until the skin is blistered and browned and the flesh inside mushy. Store whole in the freezer in 1-pound (450 g) batches with all the juice drained from the pan.

Makes3 cups (750 ml)



Total Timeunder 30 minutes

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, halal, kosher, lactose-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegan, vegetarian


Five Ingredients or LessYes

Taste and Texturehot & spicy, savory, smoky

Type of Dishsalsa, sauces


  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 pounds (900 g) tomatoes, broiled (see Notes)
  • 5 chiles serranos, broiled and roughly chopped (see Notes)
  • 2 tablespoons safflower oil
  • 2 heaped tablespoons finely chopped white onion
  • ½ teaspoon (or to taste) sea salt


  1. Put the garlic, unpeeled tomatoes, and chiles into a blender jar and blend to a slightly textured sauce. Set aside. Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan, add the onion, and cook gently until translucent-about 3 minutes. Add the blended ingredients and salt and cook over high heat, scraping the bottom of the pan from time to time, until slightly reduced and thickened-about 8 minutes. There will be flecks of brown in the sauce that’s okay; it means flavor and looks more interesting.


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