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Pure Chile Powders Add Intense Flavor to Sauces and Stews

Fine Cooking Issue 70
Photos: Scott Phillips
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When you see a spice jar labeled simply “chili powder,” it’s actually a mix of ground chiles with several spices like oregano, garlic powder, and cumin. Blending ground chiles with these spices gives chili powder a balanced flavor and a measure of convenience—it’s easier to simply stir chili powder into a dish rather than open up six or seven spice jars.

But when you’re looking to add a more nuanced hit of flavor and heat to a soup, stew, or sauce, pure chile powders—ones ground solely from a specific type of chile—are just the thing. You may even already have one in your spice rack: Cayenne is a pure chile powder. Here are several pure chile powders that you might like to try, including the two that are used in the chili recipe Texas Beef Chili with Poblanos & Beer. You can find many of these chile powders in the spice section at your local market,

If you can’t find pure chile powders locally (look for McCormick chipotle and ancho powders in the grocery store), try ordering them. A Cooks Wares carries Vann’s brand chile powders; 2.2 oz. of chipotle powder is $5.70, and 2 oz. of New Mexico is $4.50. The site also offers pasilla and habanero chile powders.

Chile powder profiles

  Pasilla Ancho New Mexico Chipotle Cayenne
Heat level: moderate moderate moderate hot very hot
Flavor: sweet, berry-like fruity, sweet earthy, fruity smoky, sweet intense, sharp
Use in: mole sauce, chili, braised pork, beef stews black beans, mole sauce, spice rubs for grilled pork or shrimp enchiladas, sauces, ground beef taco filling barbecue sauce, grilling spice rubs, mayonnaise dips, soups, crab cakes, toasted potato wedges
New Mexico.


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