Learn About Ancho Chiles

Author: Chef Toby

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What Is An Ancho Chile?

An Ancho chile is the dried version of a ripe Poblano pepper that is native to Mexico and is very popular in Mexican and southwestern American cuisine. Ancho chiles are dark red with a dry and wrinkled appearance. They are typically about four inches long and two to three inches wide.

What Do Ancho Chiles Taste Like?

Ancho chilies are slightly bitter and have a smokey and fruity flavor that is similar to plums and raisins. Ancho chiles register at 1000-2000 Scoville heat units, making them quite mild. 

How Can You Eat Ancho Chiles?

Like other dried chiles, you can use Ancho chilis either whole or ground. When used whole, people often toast them in a dry pan before rehydrating them in hot water and blending them. Ancho chile puree can be combined with sour cream to make a flavorful topping. This chile is used in soups, like traditional Mexican Pozole, and stews as well.  Ancho chile in powdered form is a popular spice in a mole, enchiladas, and chili. 

Learn About Ancho Chiles

Where Can You Buy Ancho Chiles?

Ancho chiles can be found at most supermarkets, in the international aisle, or in the produce section near other dried chiles and goods. They are available year-round. 

How Do You Store Ancho Chiles?

To keep your Ancho chiles fresh, store them in an airtight container or plastic bag in the pantry or freezer for up to a year. This will ensure to keep bugs from entering the chiles and prevent mold from forming. 

Fun Fact About Ancho Chiles:

The name ancho refers to the appearance of the pepper, translating to “wide” in English.

Did You Know?

Ancho chiles contain more Vitamin A and Vitamin B2 than fresh Poblano peppers. They also contain a lot of Vitamin C, which can help with boosting the immune system and fighting off diseases.

Recipes Using Ancho Chiles:

Ancho Chicken Enchiladas

Use ancho chile powder to make a quick enchilada sauce using flour, chicken stock, garlic powder, salt, cumin, and oregano. Stuff corn tortillas with your favorite enchilada fillings, like black beans, shredded chicken, or Monterey jack cheese. In a baking dish, place the filled tortilla rolls and add the enchilada sauce and jack cheese. Bake until the casserole is bubbly and the cheese has melted.

Spiced Sweet Potato Sandwich

This out of the ordinary sandwich includes sweet potato, feta cheese, beets, and herbs for a flavorful, complex bite. The sweet potato is seasoned with ancho chile powder, salt, pepper, and roasted in the oven until tender and slightly crisp. Take your favorite sandwich roll and pile high with mayonnaise, sliced feta, pickled beets, and herb salad made with lemon, parsley, mint, olive oil, and oregano.

Ancho Chile and Shrimp Pasta

This take on shrimp scampi replaces red pepper flakes with slices of ancho chili to infuse the dish. In a skillet, add olive oil, garlic, and sliced ancho chile and toss for 30 seconds to infuse the oil. Remove the chile slices and garlic from the oil, set aside, and add the shrimp to sauté. Combine cooked pasta with the shrimp, oil, garlic, and serve with a squeeze of lemon juice and grated parmesan cheese.

Chile Chicken Nachos

Use Ancho chiles, chipotle chiles in adobo, chicken stock, and onions to make a sauce and bring leftover shredded chicken back to life. In a baking sheet, ad a layer of corn chips, and top with cheddar cheese, chicken, and canned black beans. Bake in the oven until the cheese has melted and top with jalapeños, sour cream, avocado, and cotija cheese.

Grilled Corn with Chile and Lime

Dress up your standard grilled corn with a lime and chile spread. In a small bowl, combine Mexican crema, ancho chile powder, lime juice, and kosher salt. Cook corn on the grill, and brush with the lime crema mixture and top with cilantro before serving.


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