Several types of American chile were first cultivated by the Pueblo Indians, who continue to grow their own varieties, such as Zia Pueblo (which has a bittersweet flavor when it matures into its red color), Acoma Pueblo, and the Isleta Pueblo. Anaheim’s are named for a California farmer, Emilio Ortega, who brought seeds from New Mexico and settled in Anaheim, CA, in 1894. Anaheims should not be confused with New Mexico chiles (Sandia, Big Jim, XXHot Heritage 6-4, etc…), which are the green (unripened) roasted chiles and most favored for making chile Verde, green chile pork stew, and so forth. They are the same pure chile, technically speaking, but due to the growing conditions in New Mexico (and to a “chile purist”), there isn’t a comparison.
Store-Bought Chili Powder
While there are notably hoards of chili powders out there for sale, and honestly, most of them are just fine. Nearly all of them consist of only one type of dried chili. This is a recipe for creating your own flavor profile that is unique to you. Experiment and take notes on which blends you prefer. I’ve given some tasting notes on the recipe card for what each chili mentioned tastes like. To get a baseline of good quality, North American Artisan chili powder tastes like, try bulk Sandia chili powder, or even better yet, Chimayo chili powder from New Mexico.
North American Artisan and Mexican Heirloom
The New Mexico chile has a smoky, garlicky, onion subtlety sweet type flavor. All of the chiles in this recipe have in common the near-perfect growing conditions of altitude, soil, and temperature found in the high mountain deserts of New Mexico and parts of California and Colorado. Some peppers have two names (which can create confusion). For example, the Ancho is the dried name for a Poblano.
I’m using fully ripe (red) dried Hatch Sandia Chiles as the base in this recipe. I’m mixing in other peppers from Mexico and those that could typically be found along the trail sides in Texas and Oklahoma. This particular mix has been put together to give an intense and round flavor of chiles. The Pasilla Negro has an earthy, almost mushroom-like flavor, while the Guajillo is fruity and slightly sweet with hints of pine and berries. The Pasilla de Oaxaca is hard to find chile with a deep smoky flavor, and the dried Ancho has undertones of plum, raisin, tobacco and is slightly earthy. The heat for the chile powder recipe below comes mainly from the Hatch Luci Fairy or Chile de Arbol. This is just one recipe. You can come up with your own flavor profile as you wish. It’s excellent to use only one type of chile if that is your preference. I’ve included a quick taste reference as to what each chile tastes like to give you an idea of where I went.
Compuesto Chili Powder
- Spice grinder
- measuring cups and spoons
- chef knife
- cutting board
- kitchen scissors
- fine mesh sieve
- 5 whole Hatch Red "Sandia" Chile, dry roasted, seeded, and stemmed (Flavorful, garlicky, onion and subtlety sweet)
- 1 whole Ancho or dried Poblano Chile, dry roasted, seeded and stems removed (Undertones of plum and raisin, tobacco and slightly earthy)
- 3 whole Guajillo Chile or dried Mirasol Chile, dry roasted, seeded, and stems removed (Fruity slightly sweet with hints of pine and berries)
- 3 whole Pasilla de Oaxaca, roasted, seeded, and stemmed (Deep smoky flavor, can substitute for Chile Meco)
- 2 whole Pasilla Negro or dried Chilaca Chile, dry roasted, seeded, and stems removed (Rich earthy flavor)
- 6 whole Hatch Luci Fairy, dry roasted, seeded, and stems removed (Bright and hot that can substitute with Chile de Arbol)
- First, begin by roasting each type of chile until it blisters and starts to smoke over medium-high heat. Once all of the chiles have been roasted, remove the tops and shake out the seeds.
- Tear open the pods, pull out and discard the ribs and cut the pieces with scissors.
- Grind the chiles in batches to a fine powder in a coffee or spice grinder.
- Empty each batch into a fine-mesh sieve over a small bowl and sift the chile powder to remove larger bits that won't fit through the sieve.
- Discard the contents of the sieve after sifting each batch.
- When all of the chiles have been ground and sifted, stir the chile powder to ensure that it’s well blended.
- Turn the powder into a labeled or marked jar with a tight-fitting lid. (Good quality ziplock's work great too.)