Monday, February 21, 2011

Chile Paste

Inside an Ancho Chile
I saw another great idea in Mike & Sherry's Menu In Progress blog that I knew I had to try when I saw that huge bags of dried chiles were on sale at the store. Chile paste could definitely come in handy around the house. I picked up big bags of Anchos (smoked Poblanos that have a raisiny sweetness to compliment their smokiness) and Guajillos (dried Mirasol chiles that are mild and toasty) that were so cheap, they were practically free. I spread them out on their own sheet pans and toasted them for 10 minutes in a 400 degree oven first, let them cool, and then seeded them half-assedly- a few seeds are not worth worrying about, so whatever came out when I ripped off their stems and shook them, was good enough for me.

Next I soaked the chiles in very hot water from the tap for as long as it took to watch a couple episodes of 30 Rock. Half an hour probably would have been enough. I scooped them out of the water and into the blender, then added about a cup of the soaking water (now very dark brown) so that the puree would not be too thick and the blender would blend nicely.
Will It Blend?!

Smooth, but not too smooth Ancho chile paste
Without salt or vinegar, this isn't really a condiment so much as an ingredient- an easy way to pre-process dried chile pods so they're ready to go when you need them in a recipe- but I bet they could morph into some pretty great sauces with just a few extra additions.

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