Mexican chillies aren’t just for Mexican cooking. Pop a packet of ancho chillies in your store cupboard, and you’ll soon start discovering how easy it is to enhance dishes with their complex, fruity heat.
Simply soak a couple of ancho chillies in hot (not-boiling) kettle water for ten minutes. Pour away the bitter, coloured water and then blend the plumped-up chillies into a dip or marinade – or slice them thinly and add the slivers to a chilli con carne. Alternatively, rip off the stem and then blitz a dried ancho chilli in a grinder to create a paprika-like powder. It’s great for giving soups, stews and homemade salsas a flavour boost.
Ancho chillies are the most popular Mexican chilli – making up part of the ‘Holy Trinity’. In Mexico, they might be stuffed for rellenos, used in a mole sauce or adobo marinade. There’s no need to stick strictly to authentic recipes though – a combination of dried Mexican chillies are great when rehydrated and blended into a homemade harissa, or used for a fruity-spiced ketchup.
Ancho chillies are a sun-dried version of the poblano chilli pepper. They originate from Puebla, which is a state famed for its cuisine. It’s where we import ours from – thanks to the local expertise as well as the hot sun which dries the chillies on the vine, where they ripen, darken and the flavours intensify.
Ancho chillies are a robust ingredient with a long shelf-life. Though they don’t lose their potency, it’s good practice to keep them out of direct sunlight to prevent them from fading.
The ingredient capsaicin, which is found in chillies, is thought to boost the metabolism, burn calories and satiate appetites. Studies also indicate that eating spicy foods on a regular basis may reduce mortality rates, for more information click HERE.
ALSO KNOWN AS: Capsicum Annuum, Poblano peppers