11 DRIED MEXICAN CHILES TO KNOW AND LOVE, AND HOW TO USE THEM
When you think of Mexican chiles, you likely first conjure up the fresh, spicy green kinds—jalapeños, serranos, and poblanos. But in our new cookbook, Nopalito, we make the case for why dried chiles—which often occupy an entire wall at Mexican markets—are the cuisine’s true workhorses.
Fresh peppers are great for adding color, crunch, and heat to a dish, but it’s the dried versions that offer the most surprising and complex flavors, from smoky to spicy, to citrusy, chocolaty, earthy, and mushroomy. They range from punishingly spicy to sweet and pruney, and the colors from bright, orangey red to deep purple-black.
In Mexican cuisine, it’s traditional to use combinations of chiles to make salsas (see Gonzalo’s empanadas) and adobos (a generic term for a paste made with reconstituted and puréed dried chiles), the latter of which can be stirred into braising liquids, soup broths, masa for tortillas, and marinades.
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