I was looking through the cupboard the other day (rummaging for a snack maybe? Late night chocolate craving?), and came across a bunch of dried chiles. I had purchased some awhile ago to make mole. Only, I never actually got around to making the mole with those chiles. So, there they sat, forgotten.
There were 8 dried Pasillas, a rich, sweet, mildly hot chile, in a bag. There was another bag of Mulatos, a dark brown chile with a light fruity nuance and a smoky character. I also had an Anaheim chile (mine have been pretty mild but with a nice fruity taste) that I dried from my garden. Well, what should one do with an over-abundance of chile peppers? I thought I might try to make my own chile powder.
Even though these chiles had been in the cupboard for awhile, I knew they were still good. You see, good dried chiles will have some moisture in them and should be fairly pliable. And, these ones were still nice and moist, must’ve been because they were sealed in airtight bags. Don’t use dried chiles that are so dry and fragile that they shatter when touched (the exception to this is the Arbol chile; it’ll be brittle even right after being dried).
So, here’s my version of homemade chile powder. If you, too, have some forgotten chiles in the house, but they aren’t the same ones that I had, or if you want to purchase some chiles but can’t find these exact ones, don’t fret, use this recipe as a starter guideline. One more chile of another kind, a couple more smaller hotter ones – it’s all good. The flavor of your powder will vary. But, that can be fun. The chiles and other ingredients can be varied according to your taste. Add in a chipotle (smoked jalapeno) to bump up the smoky heat flavor. To bump up just the heat, replace some of the Pasillas with some dried chiles de Arbol. Mix it up. Come up with your own special spicy rub.
You’ll have your own custom blend of chili powder. And, just think how much your friends and family will love getting this custom homemade chile powder as a gift.
The finished chile powder is richer and darker in color than the store-bought stuff. Its aroma is heady and full. In fact, I wish I could share the way it smells, if you could get a whiff of this powder, you’d head right to your kitchen and make up a batch of your own. And, its taste is just awesome. In addition, it’s so quick and easy to whip up a batch – just a few minutes and you’re done.
Now, I have to find something new to make with my chile powder. There’s my Super-Bowl Chili. There’s Creamy Pasta with Butternut Squash and Green Onions. My husband wants to do a simple rub for his next BBQ steak. I might try a chile-rubbed fish for my next seafood recipe. I suspect that it won’t last too long in the house – there’s so many things I can do with it. Oooo, maybe add a teaspoon to some eggs before scrambling them for a nice breakfast burrito or huevos rancheros. So many options…
Homemade Chile Powder
Makes about 1 cup of powder, depending on the size of the chiles
8 dried Pasilla / Ancho chiles
1 dried Mulato
1 dried Anaheim
2 tablespoons cumin seeds, toasted
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons ground oregano (Mexican oregano, if you can get it)
Preheat your oven to 300 °F.
Remove stems and seeds from all the chiles. Cut each chile in half with scissors and flatten the pieces. Put the chiles in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the pan and check the chiles. The smaller chiles will be toasted first, so remove them and set aside. Bake the larger pieces another 4 minutes and check again. As parts of the chiles toast, break them off and set aside, returning the pan to the oven if necessary.
When all chiles are toasted and crispy, break each piece into smaller pieces and place in a food processor or bowl of a blender. Pulse the chiles in the food processor a few times until you have powder.
Toast the cumin seeds by placing them in a dry skillet over medium heat. Stir the seeds constantly, being very careful not to let them scorch. When they are a few shades darker than the untoasted seeds, they’re ready.
Grind the toasted seeds with a mortar and pestle or with a rolling pin between two sheets of waxed paper.
Add the ground cumin, garlic powder, and oregano to the ground chiles in the food processor. Pulse a few more times to thoroughly mix the powder.
Store your chili powder in a small, airtight container like a glass jar with a lid that can be tightened. If you make more chili powder than you’ll be using in the immediate future, you can triple bag it in plastic bags and put it in the freezer.