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Today's Case:

Chilis & Chile Powder

Subject: Chile vs Chili
From: Timm
Date: 6/17/2024, 2:00 PM
To: "" 

Hey Phaed:
Here is some information I have gathered over many years of cooking
Timm in Oregon
Is it Chile Powder or is it Chili Powder
Mexican Chile Powder is just ground dried chile peppers with no other additives like 
salt, dried herbs or spices. There are as many kinds of chile powder as there are 
varieties of chile peppers. Most are identified by the name of the pepper; for example 
ancho chile powder is made with dried ancho chiles, chipotle chile powder with dried 
chipotle peppers.
Chile Powders from around the world are quite different. For example, gochugaru is 
Korean chile powder. Ground aji panca or aji amarillo are used in Peruvian cooking 
and Aleppo pepper is commonly used in Turkish, Lebanese, and other Middle Eastern 
cuisines and goes by a different name depending on their language.
Mexican Chili Powder is a seasoning blend, the kind that you use to flavor chili, like 
chili con carne, Cincinnati chili. It's also used to marinade steak, season soups and 
breadcrumbs for topping mac and cheese.
Chili powder contains other ingredients like cumin, oregano, paprika, black pepper, 
garlic powder, and sometimes salt. Each brand of chili powder has its own blend, 
so you'll have to check the label on the jar. When Simply Recipes calls for chili powder 
in a recipe, without identifying the name of a chile pepper in front, they are referring 
to this seasoning blend.
There are seemingly a million chile pepper varieties out there. Here is a quick roundup 
of the chiles you're most likely to come across in local markets that are good choices 
for chile sauce.
Ancho: The name means "wide chile" in Spanish, a fitting moniker for this 
wide-shouldered, nearly black pepper, made from ripe poblano peppers. 
They have a high yield of flesh to skin, which makes them a workhorse in sauces. 
Anchos are mild with a rich, dark cherry/raisin sweetness. Beware: Ancho chiles are
 sometimes labeled "pasilla chiles," but they are much wider at the stem than true pasillas. 
 Weight: 2 chiles per ounce
California: Shiny red with fairly smooth skins, these are dried, ripe Anaheim chiles with 
an uncomplicated, sunny flavor that is very mild. They are usually blended with more 
interesting chiles when making sauces. Weight: 4 chiles per ounce
Chipotle: Made by smoking and drying jalapenos, chipotles are often sold canned in 
tomato sauce as "chipotles in adobo," but they also come in two dried varieties: 
meco (mellower) and mora/moritas (very spicy). They have a dusty, tan appearance and 
a woodsy, smoky flavor with quite a bit of heat; they are best in moderation in sauces.
Weight: 4 to 10 chiles per ounce
Guajillo: These "little gourds" are dried mirasol chiles. They have long, shiny, tapered 
pods with tough cranberry-red skins. They boast a moderately spicy, tangy flavor with 
a hint of citrus. Because the skins are tough, be prepared to soak the chiles a bit longer 
to make them pliable, and be sure to strain the sauce once blended.
Weight: 4 chiles per ounce
New Mexican: A variation of dried Anaheim chiles, these long, tapered chiles are often 
labeled "Colorado chiles." Hotter than California chiles, but with the same sunny flavor, 
they are sometimes crumbled dry over soups or reconstituted for a simple chile puree.
Weight: 5 chiles per ounce
Pasilla: These long, tapered chiles sport black, wrinkled skins and lend a subtle, 
prune-like flavor with a whisper of licorice to sauces. Complex and quite spicy, the 
dark flesh of these "chile negros" yields a mahogany brown puree that is often 
blended with cream. Weight: 3 chiles per ounce
Puya: Similar in flavor, color and shape to the guajillo, puya chiles (sometimes "pulla") 
are smaller and, more importantly, hotter -- without being scorching. They're virtually 
nonexistent at supermarkets but are common at Latino markets around town. 
They're excellent pureed into sauce or fried for chile oil. Weight: 18 chiles per ounce
This is just a partial list of the most popular chilies
Most supermarkets tend to have slower turnaround and higher prices when it comes to 
dried chile pods, so we recommend buying chiles at Mexican markets . You'll find fresher 
chiles, a wider selection and a better price. Be sure to examine the chiles in the bag carefully; 
don't buy chiles that have light spots on them it can be a sign of an infestation from field pests.
Picking the best dried chiles
The popularity of Mexican cuisine is at an all-time high (salsa now outsells ketchup as 
American's' favorite condiment). That means it's pretty easy to find a wide range of whole 
dried chile pods just about anywhere. But before you snap up those chiles, give them a 
squeeze. The best dried chiles are not brittle. They may be very dusty, depending on 
where they were dried ... but if the chile is brittle it means that it wasn't stored correctly 
and is past its date," he says. "They should be pliable and soft and give you the feeling 
that decadence lies below that dark surface.
Preparing the chiles
If you've ever handled chiles and then touched your eyes or mouth, then you know that 
even the mildest chiles can irritate your skin, so the first step in making chile sauce is to 
put on a pair of rubber gloves.
Once the gloves are on, open up the chiles lengthwise with kitchen shears and remove 
the stems, seeds and any light colored veins inside the chiles. This step will remove a 
lion's share of the heat from the fruit.
If you like spicy food, setting aside some of the seeds to add a little extra heat: You can 
add a lot or just a little of the seeds to make things hotter, and they are a key ingredient 
to mole, so  never throw them out.
Once the seeds are removed, the chiles are traditionally toasted in a dry pan or skillet to 
intensify their flavor. Watch carefully and work in small batches. They should just start to 
turn color and have dark spots on them; if you overcook the chiles, the sauce will be bitter. 
Most chiles take just 30 to 40 seconds on each side to toast.
This step is not only worth the effort for the complex flavor it lends sauces, but it also 
gives off a delicious aroma.
Toasting chiles on a comal gives off a fragrance that is transcendent. Once the toasting 
reverie is complete, soak the chiles in hot tap water for about 30 minutes. There's no 
need to use boiling water; it can actually leach out too much flavor. To transform the 
reconstituted chiles into a sauce, the chiles are drained (the soaking water is bitter) 
and pureed in a blender in batches with charred onions and garlic, seasonings and 
broth. Finally, the sauce is strained to catch any large bits of skin (common with guajillo 
chiles) or seeds the blender may have missed. If you don't mind a chunky, less refined 
texture, straining is optional.
Cooking the sauce
You might think the sauce is done once it has been pureed, but it's not. Taste it and 
you'll find it's probably quite brash, if not a bit bitter. That's because in order to bring 
out the complexity and nuances of the chiles, the sauce must be "fried" in a shallow 
puddle of oil. This melds the elements of the sauce and cooks out the raw flavor of 
the chiles. Because pouring liquid into hot oil can cause splattering, keep a pot lid 
handy to protect yourself and pour the chile sauce in all at once. The sauce will 
sizzle and bubble, but once it has simmered for a few minutes, you can reduce the 
heat and cook the sauce more gently. After 20 to 30 minutes of simmering, the sauce 
will bloom and become much more balanced and tasty. Skip this step, and you might 
as well use chili powder from a jar.
After simmering, taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings to suit you. There are 
variations in flavor and heat even among the same variety of chile pepper, so 
consider our recipe a guideline. Add honey or sugar if the sauce is too bitter, salt 
if the sauce is bland or reserved chile seeds if you want a little more heat.
Once the sauce is completely cool, it can be stored in an airtight container in the 
freezer for up to three months before the flavors begin to fade. Most recipes require 
2 cups or less of chile sauce, so it's best to store the sauce in 2 cup containers. 
Be sure to mark the containers clearly with the date and contents -- you don't want 
to mistake chile sauce for marinara!
Basic Red Chile Sauce
2 medium size onions, peeled and cut through equator into 1/2 inch rings
1 head (15 to 20 cloves) garlic, papery outer skins removed, individual cloves left unpeeled
10 ounces dried ancho chiles
5 ounces guajillo chiles
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
About 2 teaspoons brown sugar, packed plus more to taste
About 1-1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt, plus more to taste
Adjust the oven rack so that it is 6 inches below the broiling element and preheat 
the broiler. Line a baking sheet with foil and arrange the onion slices, keep them 
intact in their round slices, and garlic on the foil in a single layer. Broil until the 
garlic is charred and tender when pierced with a fork, about 10 minutes. Remove 
the garlic, flip the onions with tongs and broil the onions on the second side until 
they are tender and lightly charred, 10 minutes more; set aside. When garlic has 
cooled, peel it.
Put on rubber gloves and break the stems off the tops of the chiles and shake out 
the seeds, reserve some to add to the sauce later, if you like heat. Using kitchen 
scissors cut down the length of each chile and open them up flat. Trim and discard 
any veins on the inside of the chiles.
Turn an exhaust fan on or open a window and place a heavy cast-iron skillet over 
medium heat. Add the chiles in batches and toast them, pressing down on them 
with a spatula, until they are slightly blistered and tan spots appear, about 30 
seconds per side for the guajillo chiles, 40 seconds per side for the ancho chiles. 
Do not over-toast the chiles or the sauce will be bitter. Place the toasted chiles in 
a large bowl and add hot tap water to cover. Place a plate on top of the chiles to 
keep them submerged and let them soak until softened, 30 minutes.
Drain the chiles and blend them in batches in a blender or food processor with 
the onions, garlic, broth, oregano and cumin; be patient, you may need to stop 
several times and move the contents around a bit to make sure the sauce becomes 
evenly smooth. When the last batch of chiles is done, swish out the blender with 
1/4 cup of water to get out any of the chile mixture sticking to the bottom and sides 
of the blender and add it to the sauce. Strain the sauce through a medium-mesh 
sieve, pressing on the solids or use a food mill. Discard the solids, skins and seeds.
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Quickly 
pour the chile sauce into the pot. Keep a splatter screen or lid handy; the sauce will 
sputter and spit as it is added to the pot. Reduce heat to maintain a very gentle 
simmer, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has lost its raw chile 
flavor, 30 minutes. Add the brown sugar and salt to taste. Cool completely and 
store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer 
for up to 3 months.