Howdy y’all, and thanks for stopping by the website. Today I am happy to share with you one of the most versatile and flavorful ingredients in any kitchen: the dried chile pepper.

While chile peppers are the flavor behind many of the authentic Mexican dishes we cook, each pepper has its own flavor that can enhance the way you make meat, stews, and sauces. I’m going to share my favorites and I hope you come to enjoy these just as I do.

Guajillo Pepper

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The guajillo pepper is a dried marisol pepper. Some folks call it the “rattle pepper” because once it’s dried, it sounds like a rattle when you shake it. You can also save the seeds that make that rattling noise to plant your own crop.

The guajillo comes with a pretty flexible skin, so heat it well on the stove to dry it out before you try to grind it in a mortar & pestle.

The guajillo’s flavor is a very mild heat, very smoky with a hint of some fruit. This chile has been in just about every enchilada sauce, salsa, or red sauce you’ve eaten in any manner of restaurant. They add such a beautiful red color to any sauce and are just so good.

Dried Ancho

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The dried ancho chile is probably the most frequently used chile in tex-mex cooking, in my experience. Unlike the guajillo, the ancho pepper is pretty brittle when you take it out of the package. You still want to heat the pepper up a little before you go grinding it or slicing it because heat is always going to bring more flavor out of spices and dried peppers when you cook with them.

I’ve used this ground pepper in so many recipes. I’ve used it barbecue sauces, stews, and of course, enchiladas. The ancho is especially good if you want to make a mole sauce.

New Mexico Chile Pods (Hatch Chiles)

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Y’all know how much the cowboy loves green hatch chiles, so it should be no surprise to you how much I love using the dried version. The New Mexico Chiles are easily ground up. They can then be added to sauces, stews, and any other dish to where you want to add flavor.

These chiles leave a little tartness with the afterbite that I just love. This chile will enhance the flavor of any dish, and will add a good, tart smokiness with little spice.

Chile de Arbol

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Like other dried chiles, they’re able to be rehydrated or used in their dry form. But first, folks, I have to tell you – these things are about twice as hot as a jalapeno. If I’m going to cook with these, I’m starting with just one. If you use too many of these only a few people will be able to take more than a bite of the food and that’s not what we’re looking to do.

Chiles de Arbol are excellent when you want to spice up a recipe, however. Grind a small amount and add it into taste, and you can take your tacos from mild to medium or from medium to spicy.

Do you have other uses for these dried chiles or questions for the Cowboy? Leave your comments below.

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