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by Karina Corona •

#SauceSpotlight: Tres Chiles & Mezcal

Before we say goodbye to National Sauce Month, we’re spotlighting the newest member of our classic sauce trio: Tres Chiles & Mezcal. Inspired by the flavors and ingredients of Oaxaca, Mexico, this sweet and spicy sauce is the perfect outdoor grilling companion. We’re sharing more about Oaxaca’s cuisine and the ingredients that make this sauce flavor an homage to one of the region’s most popular salsas. Where is Oaxaca, Mexico? Located in southeast Mexico, bordered by the Pacific Ocean, Oaxaca is the country’s fifth largest region in terms of land. The state boasts some of Mexico’s most mountainous terrain, as it is home to five different mountain ranges: the neo-volcanic axis, the southern Sierra Madre, the coastal plains of the Gulf of Mexico, the Chiapas Sierras, and the Central American chain. Through these mountain ranges cross several rivers such as: the Atoyac, Papaloapan, Tehuantepec, Coatzacoalcos, Astata, Copalita, Inferior and Superior rivers. Oaxaca is a very ethnically diverse state, with a large population of Indigenous people who focus on subsistence farming. Agriculture and mining both make up a large portion of the state’s economy. The region’s mountain ranges contain gold, silver, uranium, diamonds, and onyx. The main crops produced in this region are corn, wheat, coffee, sugarcane, tobacco, fibres, tropical fruit, and of course the production of a specific type of agave used for creating Mezcal. The state’s economy also largely relies on tourism and is well-known internationally for its cuisine. Oaxacan food includes a variety of ingredients and food preparation styles that are made possible because of the region’s geography and indigenous cultures. The region’s most well-known dish is, without a doubt, mole. Oaxaca has even earned the nickname “The Land of Seven Moles” because of its different variations of this classic meal. Other traditional dishes and foods include: Tlayudas, Chapulines, Oaxaca Cheese, Totopo, and Tejate. What are the “Tres Chiles”?   Our Tres Chiles & Mezcal sauce pays homage to one specific mole: the Oaxacan mole negro. In order to make the authentic mole negro from Oaxaca, there is one very ancient and rare chile that must be used: the Chilhuacle. This moderately hot chile, with notes of cocoa, tobacco, and dry fruit, grows only in the Cañada valley in Oaxaca. When making mole negro, the seeds of the Chilhaucle chile are toasted until black and then grinded and mixed in with the rest of the chile pieces to give the mole negro its color and earthy flavor. Our secret blend of typical chiles allows us to emulate the flavors of the Chilhuacle chile, to create a sauce flavor inspired by the region’s famous mole. What is Mezcal? Mezcal is a distilled alcoholic beverage that can be made from about 30 different types of agave plants including: tobalá, tobaziche, tepeztate, arroqueño and espadín, which is the most commonly used for mezcal production. Oaxaca is where about 85% of all mezcal is made. However, production of this alcoholic beverage can also be found in Durango, Guanajuato, Guerrero, San Luis Potosi, Tamaulipas, Zacatecas, Michoacán, and Puebla. Mezcal is made by cooking the hearts of the agave plants in pits in the ground, that are filled with lava rocks, wood and charcoal-- this is how it gets its smoky flavor.  Once the agave is cooked it is crushed, combined with water, and fermented in clay pots. Although in Mexico Mezcal is most commonly consumed straight, to appreciate the smokiness and smoothness of the drink, in the United States it has become a prominent ingredient in mixed cocktails. Mezcal can also be used in salsas and marinades.   How can I use this sauce flavor? A balance of sweet, spicy, and smoky flavors, make this salsa flavor perfect for braising or grilling your favorite protein. From steak tacos to vegetarian chili to a smoky Pineapple cocktail, this sauce flavor is a summertime favorite! Check out these easy and delicious recipes using Tres Chiles & Mezcal: Steak Tacos Vegetarian Chili Smoky Pineapple Mezcal Cocktail For more recipe ideas click HERE.