I love dried ancho chiles. They smell like spicy raisins to me. Sweet, with a little bit of heat. I call that ¡una combinación deliciosa!
Dried chiles are a basic ingredient for most Mexican sauces. They can be used as a main ingredient for a salsa to drizzle over tacos but also in a more sophisticated way for Mole Poblano.
There are many ways to use dried chiles, but this is the way I usually prepare them. I use them to make a sauce for enchiladas, chilaquiles, tamales, and for a rich, earthy variety of moles.
How to Prepare Dried Chiles for a Sauce
1. Select the dried chiles you need and wipe them clean with a damp cloth (you can use paper towels).
2. Once clean, take the chiles and remove the stem using your hands or kitchen scissors.
3. Using the kitchen scissors, cut length-wise or you can tear the chile open and remove the seeds (see note).
4. In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the chiles until slightly “aromatic,” usually about 10 seconds per side.
5. As the chiles are toasted, place them in a bowl of hot water. Make sure the chiles are submerged and soak for about 20 minutes.
The chiles are then ready to be used in the blender or food processor.
This is the way I usually prepare ancho, pasilla, and guajillo chiles. They add an earthy and fruity flavor to many of the foods I love to cook.
But there are other ways to use dried chiles. I’ll be updating this post with those methods soon.
NOTE: You might want to use gloves when you are cleaning the seeds from dried chiles. If you don’t, make sure you wash your hands before you do anything else. Definitely, don’t rub your eyes!