Cooking With Orale Mexican Dried Chiles

John Linn
What will I make with you?

Yesterday I picked up two bags of dried chiles from a small Mexican grocery on Prospect Road near Dixie Highway. The place had a small but decent selection of dried spices, but the peppers were far and away the most interesting. I grabbed one package of mild ancho chiles, and one of cascabel. I want to make something special out of both of them.

Ancho is another name for a dried poblano pepper. They're described as sweet and raisin-like in flavor, with almost no heat at all. Cascabels are spicier but not too hot. They're also sweet, and are typically used to make moles.

In the past, I've toasted anchos in my cast iron skillet and then ground them with a coffee grinder I use just for spices. I've then used the chile powder in everything from guacamole to Texas-style chili con carne. The deep, rich flavor they add is fantastic. It's nothing like the chile powder you buy in a super market.

I've never used cascabels before, but since I believe the flavor is similar to anchos, I think they will work well together.

These peppers can be hydrated by pouring boiling water on top of them and allowing that to steep for 20 minutes. The hydrated peppers can be pureed and added to sauces or marinades. I'm not convinced I want to do this with all the peppers I bought, because I really like having that flavorful powder laying around my kitchen to add to things at my whim. But hydrating some of them could be fun.

The question is, what do I make?

I've made chili con carne plenty of times. But I'm looking for something more creative. Trying mole might be interesting since I've never made it myself. But there has to be other ways to prepare these that I'm overlooking.

I'm eager to hear if our readers have any ideas for my chiles. Let me know what you think I should make with them, and I'll publish the results in an upcoming blog.

Until then, I have some toasting and hydrating to do.    

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