Chile Powder, Ancho
Pronounced "Ahn-cho", the ancho chile pepper is the most commonly used dried chile in authentic Mexican cuisine. The Ancho Chile is actually a dried Poblano pepper. Poblano translates to “people chile” and is a mild chile native to the Mexican State of Puebla. The dried poblano is called chile ancho, which translates to “wide chile”. Poblanos are from the species Capsicum Annum.
Flavor Profile, Heat and Grade
Ancho peppers are a deep, reddish brown to black in color and their texture is wrinkled. They have a mild fruity, sweet, slightly smoky flavor with undertones of plum, raisin, tobacco and a slightly earthy bitterness. With a mild to medium heat (4,000-9,000 on the Scoville Heat Scale), this heart shaped dried pepper is about 3” wide and 4” in length and tapers to a point. In Mexico, the Ancho is marketed in three grades of quality. "Primero" is the highest grade, consisting of the thickest-fleshed and largest chiles. "Mediano" is the medium grade and "Ancho" is the basic grade.
Our Ancho chiles are the "Primero" grade and are grown in Mexico. These chiles are not irradiated.
Mole and the "Holy Trinity"
The Dried Ancho Chile is a key chile in the famous “holy trinity” of Mexican chiles used in Mexican mole (pronounced MOH-leh), along with the Pasilla de Negro and the Mulato chiles. Mulato chiles are closely related to the Ancho chile, but they are not the same. Ancho chiles can be used whole, in which case they are typically reconstituted by soaking them in hot water to soften them.
Ancho chiles figure in the origin of "mole poblano." According to legend, this dish was created in the 16th century by a Dominican nun named Sor Andrea de la Asuncion at the Santa Rosa convent in the Mexican city of Puebla.
Ground Ancho chile powder is used in spice rubs or for making mole or enchilada sauce. Ancho chile powder is also used to intensify adobados (meat marinated or seasoned with an adobo is referred to as adobado), beans, beef, casseroles, chicken, dips, pasta, pizza, popcorn, pork, red chili, rice, salsa, soups and stews.
One of our favorite ways of using Ancho powder is to mix it with some fresh honey to make a ancho-honey glaze that we brush onto salmon before sautéeing.
Ancho chile pepper conversions: 1 whole Ancho chile = 1 heaping tablespoon of ancho powder which is also equal to approximately 1/4 oz.