Heat olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook for 1-2 minutes, whisking constantly, until flour is foaming.
Whisk in chili powder, ground cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, dried oregano and salt. Cook for one more minute, whisking constantly.
Slowly pour chicken broth into saucepan, whisking constantly to avoid any lumps.
Whisk tomato paste into sauce, then simmer 5-10 minutes, until thickened. If sauce ends up too thick, thin it out by whisking in a few tablespoons of chicken broth.
Chicken broth: Feel free to use vegetable broth if you need the recipe to be vegetarian or vegan. I do not recommend using beef broth in place of the chicken broth, as it is too intense.
Chili powder: Use your favorite chili powder here; a Mexican chili powder is obviously preferred. If you want a completely mild sauce, use all ground paprika in place of the chili powder. For a medium-spicy sauce, replace half of the chili powder with ground paprika.
Flour: I strongly recommend using all-purpose flour. Whole wheat flour will not work as well. With gluten free flour, you need to be careful which one you use. I know you can use King Arthur multi-purpose gluten free flour, but some other flours could gum up when trying to use in a roux.
Tomato paste: If you don’t have any tomato paste on hand, you could use ketchup as a quick and dirty substitute… Been there, done that 😉
Use level tablespoons of flour, NOT heaping tablespoons. Heaping tablespoons will result in a sauce that is too thick.
Only use medium heat, or just slightly over medium heat when cooking the flour/the spices in oil. This is very important, because these ingredients burn easily. Do not walk away from the stove, keep whisking constantly. If either your flour or your spices burn, you need to start over. There is no way to salvage the sauce, and it would end up tasting bitter and burnt.
If you are a beginner when it comes to working with a roux (cooking a mixture of fat and flour to thicken a sauce), I highly recommend taking the saucepan off the heat when you whisk in the flour (put it back on the stove once the flour is fully incorporated, to cook until frothy). And also take it off the heat again while whisking in the broth (and then place it back on the stove to simmer and thicken). This lessens the likelihood of the flour scorching, and the likelihood of lumps forming.
If your sauce ends up too thick, thin it out by adding chicken broth, one tablespoon at a time. If it ends up too thin, simmer it for longer or add a slurry of ½ tablespoon cornstarch and 1 tablespoon cool water or chicken broth.
Store the sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months (see post for additional tips for freezing).
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