Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Recently I won some delicious dried chiles from Heather’s contest on her blog, Girlichef. The contest was the Chile Pepper Roundup and Giveaway. The entries were impressive. If you missed seeing the post go here to check them out. Thank you Heather, you made me very happy. When I started opening the box, the aromas filled the entire house. It was magnificent. If you've ever roasted your own chiles, you know what I'm talking about.

Dried chiles are very easy to reconstitute and make into a paste or sauce. Here are a couple of simple recipes to go by.

Red Chile Pureé

9- (about 3 ounces) dried New Mexico or California red chiles, hot or mild or a combination of both
2- cups water, or more, to cover chiles completely with water in pan
1- small onion, chopped
2- cloves garlic, chopped

Toast chiles on a large baking pan for approximately 4 minutes. Let cool slightly and then remove seeds and stems. IMPORTANT! Wear rubber gloves when handling chiles. If you accidentally rub your eyes when handling chiles without gloves, it will really sting.

In a 4-quart pan, combine chiles, water, onion, and garlic. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer (covered) until chiles are soft (about 30 minutes). Remove from heat and cool slightly.

In blender, whirl chile mixture till smooth. Run through sieve (strainer) to discard residue and any unprocessed chile skins. Purée can be refrigerated (covered) up to 1 week. Makes 2 cups.

* If you want a hotter tasting chile sauce, try adding 1 or 2 "chile de arbol", stemmed and seeded, to the chile in the water simmering step.

Red Chile Sauce

12 whole dried ancho or pasilla chiles
3 cups warm water
¼ cup tomato sauce (paste may be substituted)
1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
¼ cup salad oil
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry oregano
½ teaspoon ground cumin

Spread whole dried chiles on baking sheet and toast in a 400 ° oven until fragrant (3 to 4 minutes). Remove and let cool. Discard stems and seeds; place in a bowl with 3 cups warm water, and let stand for 1 hour.

Whirl chiles in a blender with enough of the soaking liquid to moisten. Add remaining liquid, tomato sauce, garlic, oil, salt, oregano, and cumin. Blend until smooth. Pour into a pan and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes. Keep warm. If made ahead, cool, cover, and refrigerate for up to a week. Freeze for longer storage. Reheat before using. Makes 3 ½ cups.

This sauce is great on enchiladas and carne con chile colorado.
There are some chiles that I will always have on hand to add to simple meals to give them that WOW factor.

These are jalapenos, poblano and long green. Living in the desert SW means having chiles on hand, fresh or dried, is a must.

Here is a list of the some of the chiles I found while researching online in preparation of my cookbook, Aprovecho, A Mexican-American Border Cookbook, to give you an idea of the possibilities to use in your Border cooking. Enjoy.

20 Popular Types of Chiles Used in Mexican Cooking

1. Anaheim: A type of fresh long green chile grown in Southern California.
2. Ancho: Dried form of poblano chile; dark red to brown; sweet & fruity; mild to sweet.
3. Cascabel: Round; very hot; dried chile.
4. Chile de Arbol: Dried; small, red; very hot.
5. Chipotle: Dried; smoked jalapeño; dark red.
6. Chipotle in Adobo Sauce: Chipotles in a hot, tomato-base chili sauce.
7. Fresno: Fresh, small bright green or red chiles. Good substitute for jalapeño. Milder than other small chiles.
8. Green Chile: Fresh, long green. Most common type know as Anaheim because it was the first large commercial crop grown in southern California. It is very green when picked; red if allowed to ripen on plant. Types include:Anaheim; Española; New Mexico #64; Chimayo; Big Jim; Dixon;New Mexico
9. Guajillo: Dried, brownish-orange, fruity-hot. Called Mirasol when fresh.
10. Güero: Fresh, yellow-blond; fiery-hot. Use in place of jalapeños or serranos.
11. Habanero: Not easily found fresh. Ripens from green to red to orange. Extremely hot.
12. Jalapeño: Fresh or canned. Comes from Jalapa, Mexico. Small, hot. Green and/or red.
13. Mirasol: Fresh Guajillo.
14. Mulato: Similar to Ancho; dried form of fleshy green chile.
15. New Mexico: A type of long green chile; fresh.
16. Pasilla: Dried chile; has a wrinkled appearance. Dark red to red-black.
17. Piquin: Dried red chile; also called piquin. Very small; very hot. Good substitute for cayenne.
18. Poblano: Fresh; wide, dark green. Mild to medium.
19. Serrano: Fresh, dark green up to 3 inches long; hotter than jalapeño.
20. Tepin: Dried, tiny; very hot. Use like cayenne or piquin.
Remember what the weather man said:
"Chile today, hot tamale!" (Oh, dear, I have to get some new jokes! This one is bad, bad, bad.)


girlichef said...

Great post! I love all the chile info! I could smell the chiles through the package!!! :D

Reeni♥ said...

I am really starting to love cooking with dried chiles. I am still learning what to do with them. That's where you come in! I will definitely be trying these sauce recipes! Enjoy your chiles from your win!

ARLENE said...

I looked in 2 stores for a Serrano chili today, Teresa. I decided to buy an extra Jalapeno. I was happy to read that the Serranos are hotter--happy because I'm a chili wimp :)

Gloria Chadwick said...

YUM... Chiles. Great post, great info on chiles. :) We're lucky to live in Texas because chiles are so easy to find.

foodcreate said...

Two for the price of one! I love Chiles> I lived in Texas and I miss Chiles rellenos!

Thanks for the lovely comments on our site! Stop by :)

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Foodycat said...

I've never seen such a variety of chillies! Wow!

Adam said...

Thanks for the "pepper primer" at the end. Now that I live in an area with a good amount of Mexican people, there are dried chiles EVERYWHERE. I have no idea what to make of them at first. Chiles to a Polish kid is like a fish using roller skates :)

I'm going to bring this sauce idea up to my co-workers, and see what they think...

Thanks for your support of the strawberry cookies too, you're right, the patients dug them :)

Anonymous said...

Excellent post! My husband is half Mexican and he does most of the chile dishes in our kitchen, but I'd like to surprise him with a little red sauce this time. Thanks for posting.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

What a wonderful and useful post. I loved the chile guide - we get many different types of chiles from my CSA share, and I'm not always certain of the differences and have often found out about heat the hard way.

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