Cook the Book: El Sur’s Ranchero Sauce from Taste of Tucson

by angelazbornik | September 11, 2020 | Food & Drink

It’s green chile season in the Southwest and author Jackie Alpers has some super tasty recipes to use them with in her new cookbook, Taste of Tucson.

Today we’re sharing one of our favorites, Ranchero Sauce, a chile- and tomato-based sauce from local Tucson restautant, El Sur.


Ranchero is a smooth, tomato-based sauce that is served warm and is the defining ingredient in both huevos rancheros and Bistec Ranchero (below). Isela Mejia, who owns El Sur Restaurant, makes the best in town.


  • 3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
  • 2 cups diced white onion
  • 3 medium tomatoes, coarsely
  • chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 3 Anaheim chiles, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 (28-ounce) can tomato puree
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons granulated chicken-flavored bouillon, preferably Knorr brand
  • 3 teaspoons granulated beef flavored bouillon, preferably Knorr brand
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, tomatoes, and chiles. Sauté until the vegetables are soft, stirring frequently, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in the tomato puree. When it starts to boil, add 3/4 cup of water and the chicken- and beef-flavored bouillon. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. If the sauce becomes too thick for your taste, add a bit of water. Add salt and pepper to taste.


In a large Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add 1 pound skirt or bottom round steak, cut into 1-inch pieces, and sauté until browned and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Pour in 2 1/2 cups El Sur Ranchero Sauce (above) and bring just to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes. Serve warm refried beans, warmed corn tortillas, and grilled chiles and/or onions. Makes 4 servings.

Portrait of Taste of Tucson author Jackie Alpers at her home in Tucson, Arizona.