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Wholemeal Crank

Recipe for testing chilies?

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I have just obtained some dried chilhaucle chiles, and before I use them for mole, I'd like to try one in a really simple recipe that I can use to compare to some of the more easily obtained varieties. I want the flavors of the different chiles to stand out, and it to be simple enough to make several versions at a time for comparison.

Would it make more sense to rehydrate a piece of each and mix with otherwise plain rice, or make a quesadilla with a bit of queso fresco, or mix with some cooked sweet corn or hominy? How would you or do you test chiles?

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I'd definitely avoid mixing it with cheese or any other strong flavor. I'd tend to rehydrate dried chiles, mix with a little water, and make a plain salsa with nothing but the chiles and water. For fresh chiles, I'd roast them and then make the salsa.

To taste it, I'd just put a small amount of the salsa into my mouth. Or, if it's really 'picante,' smear it onto a tortilla.


Edited by Jaymes (log)

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I agree. Since dairy inhibits the heat effect of chiles, I'd avoid using any sort of cheese or dairy product.

I'd just grind a little bit of each in a clean mortar & pestle, mix with water and sniff and taste each one. Then, I'd use something bland and dairy-free, like a tortilla, to cleans the palate in between tastes. I'd be afraid that mixing with too many other flavors (like acid) might skew the sampling.

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I think a simple salsa is a good idea, or maybe mixing with mayo? I'm not sure you can compare them side by side all that well. A bite of some mild pepper is nothing, a bit off a habanero is something you won't forget :laugh:

Or maybe make a simple vegetable broth or mild hot/sour soup (w/o the hot part) and separate it into cups, then add what you think are good amounts of each pepper to a cup and taste. Keep a glass of milk handy to kill the fire if one it too hot. Water or beer etc won't work.

take some pictures if you can and let us know! I've wondered about how to compare peppers myself.

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I'm leery of the straight tasting, precisely because of the variable heat. I mostly want to compare some relatively mellow chiles, no intention of tasting vs habaneros, or even chipotles. I know what those are good for.

I want to compare the mild and medium chiles that are often suggested as substitutes for each other, like anchos, pasillas and mulatos, and these chilhuacles; and cascabels vs california vs guajillos. It's not so much regarding heat, because that is the easiest thing to increase by adding cayenne or bits of habaneros if needed, but regarding sweet/tart/unami.

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Since they're mostly used in chile sauces, why not make a basic chile sauce?

Toast and rehydrate the chiles, blend with onions and garlic and enough of the soaking liquid to move the blades. Fry the paste in lard for 1o minutes and then thin with stock and add salt. This would work for almost anything (exceopt maybe arbols and cascabels, which tend to be used for table salsas). Once you know the taste, I'd add cumin and mex oregano to complete the sauce.

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That might be the simplest way to go. I could prep the onions and garlic separately, divvy it up between the peppers, and use the leftover after the tasting for a nice batch of beans n' rice. A bit simpler for comparing flavors than a full salsa, but not as plain as just pureed peppers over rice or tortillas.

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you could also just (fire) roast them and try them with some bread and olive oil, since you're not talking about hot ones.

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I gathered my dried chiles


Seeded them and ran them through my spice grinder


Took about 2 grams of each and added 2 tablespoons of boiling water to rehydrate them; sauteed some onions and garlic, and added a spoonful to each chile slurry, and tasted them. I used plain brown rice and some tortilla chips as the vehicles for the chiles, and tasted them from milder to hotter per the ratings on this chart. I decided not to toast or fry the chiles first because I wanted to taste them as simply as possible this time.

Mildest group:

The ancho was only slightly little hot, and mildly fruity.

The mulato was very earthy, darker flavored, less fruity, and hotter.

The pasilla was fruitier, less earthy, and not quite as hot as the mulato.

In between heat:

The New Mexico was fruity, lighter, and a bit tart, hotter than the first three but not by much.

The guajillo was earthier than the New Mexico, but less so than the mulato, but hotter than the mulato.

The chilhaucle negro was fruity, tart, less heat than New Mexico or guajillo, and seemed more like the New Mexico in the tart/fruity flavor.

The cascabel was sweet and fruity, and not particularly hot. I have had these for a long time and hardly ever use them. I will use them more often now!

Hottest (but still quite mild as chiles go!):

The puya was a bit one dimensional with heat but not a lot of depth of flavor.

The chipotle surprised me with how sweet and fruity it was under the smoky heat.

All in all, a lot of fun, and although the chilhaucle negro did have a bit of a unique flavor, it wasn't so astonishingly good that I can see continuing to pay as much as I did for these.

After the tasting, I took the rest of the chile tests and extra powdered chile (rehydrating in additional boiling water), added it back to the remaining onions and garlic in the pot, and cooked it a while before adding some stock, beans, etc, until it made a tasty chili.

Edited by Wholemeal Crank (log)

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