Pictured Above: Dried Chile Ancho
Preparing Dried Chiles is Easy!
You might walk right past the dried chiles at your supermarket, and reach for a powdered spice blend instead, for convenience. But nothing matches the flavor and authenticity of making your own chile paste from scratch. Believe me; if you can boil water, then you most certainly can make your own fresh chile paste from dried chiles.
Two Types of Dried Chile Textures Determine How You Need to Prepare Them
Just remember when preparing chiles, that dried chiles fall into 2 texture categories - leathery, or crispy.
Crispy Chiles: Long fiery Chile de Arbol and the tiny, hot Chile Piquin fall into the crispy category. Chile Piquin can be ground easily in a molcajete (mortar and pestle), without pre-boiling. Once the Chile Piquin is ground finely, then you can incorporate the remaining desired ingredients, such as salt, pepper, tomato or garlic.
Chile de Arbol do not need to be boiled either, however as they are slightly leathery, I recommend making a puree in a blender. Toasting the chile de arbol for 60 seconds in a hot oven, or in a hot frying pan not only makes the Chile de Arbol a bit crispier and easier to puree, but deepens their flavor with toasty undertones. Use about 2 cups of water to every half cup of chiles that you need to puree. Always remember you can reduce the amount of water in your chile puree by simmering your puree on the stove for about 10 minutes. Crispy textured chiles do not need to be boiled before pureeing.
Leathery Chiles: Chile Ancho, Chile Chipotle, Chile Pasilla and Chile Guajillo are a few of the chiles with a leathery texture. Just as you would boil dried fruit, leathery textured chiles should be boiled and reconstituted before use. Once they are boiled, these chiles need to be pureed in a blender or food processor, using 1 cup of boiled chiles to 2 cups of water. If you feel your puree is too watery, you can reduce the amount of liquid by simmering your puree in a skillet for 10 minutes, until it is reduced.
Once you have made your dried chiles into a paste, you can incorporate this paste into any sauce, dressing, gravy or marinade of your choosing.
Washing Your Chiles Happens When you Boil Them
Not only does boiling soften the chile, but thoroughly washes away any impurities caught in their wrinkled surface.
Select a large stock pot, and fill it halfway full with water. Dried chiles float, and if your pot is too full of water, the chiles will pop out of the pot while cooking. Add your desired amount of chiles, and then bring to a boil. Boiling takes about 15 minutes. Discard the water used for boiling, and carefully remove the stems and seeds from your boiled chiles. Your chiles are now ready to be pureed in a blender, using 2 cups of fresh water per every half cup of dried chiles.