Homemade Chili Gravy (with tamales, which were not homemade)

The chili gravy recipe comes from Robb Walsh’s amazing The Tex-Mex Cookbook. If you don’t know what chili gravy is, I promise you do and just didn’t realize it. It’s the gravy that smothers many of the items on a Tex-Mex menu, like enchiladas and baked tamales, and it’s incredibly easy to make.

I ordered some Margarita’s jalapeno-cheese tamales this week from Greenling, and was planning on eating them plain until I remembered the chili gravy. Did you ever eat tamales out of a can when you were a kid? I remember they were covered in a tasty sauce (Yes, I liked tamales out of a can. I’m not ashamed to admit it.), and wanted to replicate the whole concept.

I made the sauce, then added an extra 1/2 cup of water and all six tamales still in their husks (this keeps them from falling apart as they heat up). I simmered the whole thing for about 10 minutes, till the tamales were heated through, then removed them from the husks, covered with gravy, and sprinkled with cilantro. Fast and delicious – just like a weeknight meal should be.

I’m planning on making a few other things from the cookbook this weekend like the carne con chili. I might even render lard. Did you know it is actually healthier than butter? Plus, you get cracklins as a byproduct. As byproducts go, that’s a pretty good deal.

Homemade Chili Gravy (from The Tex-Mex Cookbook)

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tbsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 tbsp chili powder
2 cups chicken broth or water

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the flour and continue stirring for 3 to 4 minutes, or until it makes a light brown roux.

Add all the dry ingredients and continue to cook for 1 minute, constantly stirring and blending ingredients.

Add chicken broth or water, mixing and stirring until the sauce thickens.

Turn heat to low and let sauce simmer for 15 minutes. Add water if it’s too thick.

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