Cooking with authentic Mexican chilli is a gamechanger. They are the key to creating authentic flavours and deep, rich, satisfying and complex dishes. This is only possible when you start with the right ingredients.
Chillies are the essential ingredient in Mexican cuisine and in most cases the authentic flavour comes from dried chillies. Drying Mexican chillies preserves the peppers, extending their life considerably.
Many peppers in Mexico are dried for culinary purposes. The drying process changes the flavours and characteristics of the chilli and as a result they are given a new name. So Jalapenos dried and smoked become Chipotles. And because the flavours are different, they are used in entirely different ways. Then when you rehydrate your chillies the flavours baked in by the hot Mexican sun come flooding back to create unbelievable flavours. They will also fill your kitchen with the most amazing aromas
Top tip – you can tell the quality of a dried chilli by bending it. If it is flexible it retains all the essential oils that provide the authentic complex flavour, Chillies that are brittle and break should be discarded.
We use three dried whole chillies and combine them in dishes to help you create meals to savour and remember.
Introducing our chillies…
Mexican chilli – Ancho
Source : Puebla region, Mexico
Heat : 3-4/10
Flavours : Plum and raisin fruitiness combine with liquorice and coffee base notes.
Description : Made from dried ripened Poblano, the Ancho Chile is generally mild and adds more flavour than heat. The poblano peppers ripen on the vine until they turn red. Consequently when harvested and dried they have more fruitiness than the fresh green poblano pepper. You can add distinctive red colouring as well as flavour to your creations. Top tip – rehydrating it in hot coffee makes the favours more intense
Use in Mexican cooking – Indispensable in the cocina, and used in everything from sauces and sauces to moles. Once rehydrated they are often stuffed with cheese and other fillings to create the wonderful Chilli Rellenos.
Fiesta Manana dishes using Ancho chillies
Mexican chilli – Chipotle
Source : Veracruz, Oaxaca & Chihuahua regions, Mexico
Heat : 6/10
Flavours : Smokiness is the main flavour, with a nutty, chocolatey notes and a warming heat.
Description : Made from dried red Jalapeños, the Chipotle, meaning smoked chilli is dried and then smoked slowly to create an intense and unmistakeable aroma and taste. As a result, Chipotles provide big flavours. It takes 10lb of fresh jalapenos to prepare 1lb of chipotles so the flavour is concentrated. They give your dishes an authentic feel every time. Top tip – combining chipotle and citrus creates a fabulous harmony and complex flavours in your meals
Use in Mexican cooking – Chipotles in Adobo are a staple in Mexican food. Mexicans rehydrate and cook Chipotles in a sweet and tangy purée of tomato, vinegar, garlic and spices. It is widely available in cans. Check it out. Chipotles in Adobo will transform any Mexican dish into a flavour bomb.
Fiesta Manana dishes using Chipotle chillies
Mexican chilli – Pasilla
Source : Jalisco and central regions, Mexico
Heat : 4/10
Flavours : The fruitiness of this chilli meets a gentle smokiness and warming chocolatey tones.
Description : Made from dried Chilaca, the name translates as ‘little raisin’ but there is nothing little about this chilli which is usually 20cm plus in length . Top tip – dry roasting Pasilla chillies before use brings out the smokiness and coffee notes in this chilli
Use in Mexican cooking – Pasilla peppers are one of the most popular chillies in Mexican cooking. Pasillas give flavour to moles, table sauces and salsas. Ground Pasillas often flavour Mexican chilli powders and seasonings.
Fiesta Manana dishes using Pasilla chillies
In summary, we think that there is nothing quite like using authentic imported Mexican chilli. And we promise that as soon as those aromas start to flood your kitchen you will never go back. Welcome to your Mexican grand tour.
And if you want a soundtrack for your tour, we recommend the soundtrack to Red Dead Redemption – listen to it here