Learn About California Chiles

Author: Chef Toby

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What is a California chile?

A California chili is dried Anaheim pepper. It is a dark burgundy color with wrinkled and dehydrated skin. These peppers can be five to seven inches long and two to three inches wide. 

What do California chiles taste like?

These peppers are very mild but can have a sharp and acidic flavor. California peppers are not very spicy at all and are often combined with other peppers to enhance the flavor. 

How can you eat California chiles?

California chiles can be rehydrated and blended into sauces, moles, and stews. These chiles work well when making an enchilada sauce, and are grounded and added into seasonings and spice rubs. 

Learn About California Chiles

Where can you buy California chiles?

California chiles can be purchased at most major supermarkets and can be found near the other chiles in the produce section, or in the international aisle next to the Mexican products. If you live near a Mexican grocery store, you will find the chiles near the produce in a specific section for dried goods. 

How do you store California chiles?

California chiles, in both whole and powdered form, should be stored in a cool and try place in either an airtight container or a resealable plastic bag. They can also be stored in the freezer for up to a year.

Fun Fact about California chiles

Another name for the California chile is “Chile Seco del Norte,” which means “dry chile from the north.”

Did you know?

All chiles are ranked on the Scoville scale, which measures the spiciness of a pepper. California peppers are low on the scale, with only 500-2,500 Scoville units. Some of the hottest peppers, like the Carolina reaper chile, can reach up to two million Scoville units!

Recipes Using California Chiles

In our authentic Mexican red rice video cooking lesson, Chef Toby uses California chiles which give red rice its color and delicious flavor.

How To Make Authentic Mexican Red Rice
Authentic Mexican Red Rice Video Cooking Lesson

Chile Colorado

Toast California, guajillo, and pasilla chiles in a dry pan and blend them with chicken stock, onion, garlic, oregano, salt, and tomato paste. Pour the sauce over beef cubes and cook for three hours for flavorful, tender beef that goes perfectly with rice, beans, and avocados.

Pork With Red Chile Sauce

This pork recipe is great for making in advanced with minimal prep time thanks to the slow cooker. Place a large pork loin along with onion, bay leaf, garlic, oregano, cumin, salt, and pepper into a slow cooker. Cook this on low for 8 hours. After the pork has cooled slightly, shred it, strain the pork broth, and set aside.

In the blender, make a sauce using rehydrated California chile pods, reserved pork broth, oregano leaves, cumin, chili powder, onion powder, and garlic. Cook the sauce in a saucepan with oil, and add shredded pork back in. Serve with cilantro and diced onion.

Enchilada Sauce

Use California chiles to make a classic yet simple enchilada sauce. In a blender, blitz boiled chili pods, garlic powder, cumin powder, oregano, and salt. Use the hot water that the chiles were boiled in to thin out the sauce. Strain the sauce through a mesh trainer to remove any chunks of skin from the chile that were not blended. Use the sauce to make enchiladas stuffed chicken and Monterey Jack cheese or your favorite filling.

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