What Are Ancho Chile Peppers?
Ancho chile peppers are dried poblano chile peppers. To get ancho chile peppers, poblano chile peppers are left on the plant until they are red and overripe. Then they are picked and left to dry, preferably in the sun. Ancho chile peppers are the most popularly used dried pepper in Mexican cuisine. They are also some of the biggest chile peppers, which can be reflected in their name, ‘ancho’ meaning ‘wide.’ Ancho chile peppers are also great because of how long they will stay fresh. It is recommended that you use them between 3-6 months of purchasing, but they can last up to a year and still be flavorful and delicious.
How Spicy Are They?
Ancho chile peppers are equal in spice to poblano chile peppers. You can use this chart to see how ancho chile peppers (poblano peppers) compare to other peppers. On a board scale of spice, they would be considered mild peppers. For example, jalapeños are much spicier than ancho chile peppers. The flavor of ancho chile peppers is more of a smoky and sweet one. When the poblano peppers dry, the flavor transforms quite a bit. There is a richness that ensues in this process and the pepper’s flavors are very much enhanced.
How Can You Use Them?
Ancho chile peppers are most often used in sauces because of how much flavor they can bring. For their use in sauces, ancho chile peppers are most often either boiled and then pureed into the sauces or they are roasted and added in. Ancho chile peppers are a key ingredient in mole sauce, a staple in many Mexican dishes.
Additionally, here are five delicious recipes you can use ancho chile peppers in:
Authentic Enchilada Sauce
This is a simple ancho chile recipe, but also very versatile and delicious.
- Prepare the ancho chiles by removing and discarding the stem
- Rehydrate the dried chiles by placing them in hot water
- Let them soak for about 20 minutes
- Transfer chiles to a blender and puree with garlic, Mexican chocolate and salt until completely smooth
- That is it! There you have the perfectly rich enchilada sauce
Red Pork Tamales
Click the link for the full tamale recipe, as it includes the full steps for each part (such as the pork cooking and the masa). Here is the recipe for the red chile sauce, where the ancho chile peppers play an important role.
- For the red chile sauce, you’ll need some dried guajillo chiles, dried ancho chiles, ground cumin, garlic powder, and salt
- Rehydrate the chiles in hot water to soften them up
- Blend them with the ground cumin, garlic powder, and salt
- Coat your pork in this sauce and follow the rest of the tamale recipe
Red Posole is a Mexican stew with pork and red chile broth.
- You will need dried ancho chiles, Hominy, Mexican chocolate, some kind of broth, pork shoulder, cumin, chili powder, oregano, salt, black pepper, and freshly minced garlic
- To make the red chile broth: first rehydrate the dried chiles by placing them in a large bowl with 3 cups of hot water
- Cover the bowl with a plate and let them soak for about 20 minutes to soften them up
- Add the chiles, the water they were soaking in, salt, garlic, Mexican chocolate, cumin powder and chili powder into a large blender
- Blend until completely smooth
- Mix this with the broth and the pork
- Simmer the pot and let the stew cook together
Chile Colorado is a tender beef dish with red chile sauce.
- For the red chile sauce:
- In a medium pot, add dried Guajillo chiles, Ancho chiles, Arbol chiles, and onion
- Cover with water until chiles and onions are completely submerged and bring to a boil over high heat
- Once boiling, remove from heat, cover and let it sit for 20 minute to soften the peppers
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the softened chiles and onions into a large blender
- Add in 1 cup of the chile-soaked water, the dried oregano, salt, garlic, and cumin
- Blend until smooth
- Add some of the beef broth from the meat ingredients as needed if the mixture is too thick for your blender
- Once the red chile sauce is as smooth as possible, pour it through a strainer into a bowl, pushing down on the solids that accumulate to get as much moisture out as possible. Discard the solids
- Coat your beef in this sauce
In direct translation, “Carne Asada” means “grilled meat”, usually streak. Ancho chile peppers, however, play an important role in the dish.
- For the marinade of the Carne Asada, you will need chopped cilantro, olive oil, orange juice, lime juice, white wine vinegar, Ancho chilis, ground cumin, dried oregano, garlic, a finely chopped jalapeño, and salt and black pepper
- Simply combine these ingredients in a bowl and whisk them together until well combined into a marinade
- Place the steak in a large baking dish or gallon size ziplock bag and pour the marinade on top
- Turn the steak a few times until it’s completely coated with the marinade and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours
- Do not marinate for longer than 8 hours because the meat will start to break down and get mushy
- Then grill your steak
Still curious about marinating steak? Read The Proper Way to Marinate a Skirt Steak
So there you have it! This is how ancho chile peppers are incorporated into 5 classic Mexican dishes, mostly to create a delicious red chile sauce. Enjoy!
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