7 DRIED CHILES MOST COMMONLY USED IN MEXICAN FOOD
The flavor of dried chiles is developed by toasting them over direct heat, and it blossoms into its full complexity when the chiles are soaked in a little water. Once soft, the chiles can be pureed and worked into the recipe by simmering with other ingredients or frying to intensify the flavor.
To toast dried chiles, stem, split, and seed the chiles and remove any ribs. Heat a heavy cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chiles to the dry pan and press down firmly with a spatula until the chiles blister, soften, and darken, being careful not to burn them. Turn the chiles and repeat. Transfer the chiles to a bowl and pour hot water over them as directed in the recipe.
Once they have soaked for the time indicated, transfer the soaked chiles to a blender and puree with the reserved
soaking liquid, according to the recipe instructions. Puree the chiles for several minutes, until perfectly smooth, scraping down the sides of the blender once or twice. At this point, you can pass the pureed chiles
through a food mill to remove any traces of skin or fiber from the sauce, if you like. The chile puree may now be added to the slow cooker, or it may be cooked in a skillet to thicken it and concentrate the flavors.
The following are the dried chiles most commonly used in Mexican Food, listed from the mildest to the hottest.
Deep flavors of fruit, hay, tobacco, and chocolate characterize this wide chile, 3 to 4 inches in length, with wrinkled skin that is reddish-black to black.
Similar in flavor to the ancho chile, this long, narrow chile has smooth, thin flesh that is dark brown to black in color.
Guajillo (mild or spicy);
The most commonly used dried chile in Mexican cooking, narrow guajillos are 4 to 6 inches in length and have smooth reddish to dark red skin and leathery flesh. This sweet-smelling chile, often used in enchilada sauce, has a pure chile flavor.
Similar in appearance to the guajillo, this chile may be dark red to red-brown and usually has medium-spicy leathery flesh. Not sweet, this herbaceous chile features the flavors of hay and tobacco.
Narrow and 3 to 4 inches in length, this red, smooth-skinned chile, also known as a japonés chile, is medium-hot, with a fruity taste.
A smoked dried jalapeño chile, a chipotle is light to medium
brown with dry-looking skin. It is smoky, slightly bitter, and very spicy.
Chile de árbol;
A small, thin red chile with many seeds, this is hot, with a bitter edge.
Pequín. This tiny red chile is very hot.