Chile-Coffee BBQ Sauce

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr
  • Prep: 45 min
  • Cook: 15 min
  • Yield: Makes 1 quart
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3 guajillo chiles

3 mulato chiles

1/2 medium onion, cut into wedges

6 cloves garlic, unpeeled

2 tablespoons corn oil

1 cup tomato puree

1 cup strong black coffee

1/4 cup turbinado sugar

1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus additional for seasoning

1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican

Pinch ground cloves

Pinch cumin

2 teaspoons cider vinegar


  1. Split, stem, and seed the chiles. Toast the chiles in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, turning and flattening with a spatula, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Put the chiles in a heatproof bowl, cover with very hot water, and set aside until soft, about 30 minutes. Drain, reserve soaking liquid, chop chiles roughly, and set aside.
  2. While the chiles soak, char the onion and garlic in the same dry skillet over medium heat until the onion blackens slightly and garlic softens in the skin, about 8 minutes. Cool, squeeze the garlic out of the skin, and put in a blender with chiles and onion. Puree to a paste, adding soaking liquid as needed (about 3/4 cup) to help the mixture break down.
  3. Heat the oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chile mixture and cook, stirring, until thick and fragrant, about 4 minutes. Add the tomato puree, coffee, sugar, 1 tablespoon salt, oregano, cloves, and cumin. Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes.
  4. Stir in vinegar and season with salt to taste.

Cook’s Note

For this recipe, we prefer Mexican oregano. It's stronger than Italian oregano, so it can hold its own with the other assertive flavors in this sauce.