Tips on how to shop for and cook New Mexican chile peppers.
Fresh and dried chiles vary widely in spiciness depending on variety and seasonality. Smaller varieties are generally hotter. What makes chiles hot, capsaicin, is found in the inner membrane and seeds. Our shopping and cooking tips for chiles will help you add flavor and spice to your favorite savory recipes.
Drying whole chiles imparts a smoky, slightly bitter flavor and preserves them for longer storage. Look for whole dried New Mexican chiles in the produce or spice section of supermarkets or Latin markets. Dried chiles are also ground to make chile powder (both coarse and fine). Unlike most commercial chile powder, which is a blend of spices, New Mexican ground red chile is just straight ground New Mexican chile. If you can’t find New Mexican chile powder, you can grind whole chiles in a spice mill or clean coffee grinder to the desired coarseness. You can order chiles whole or ground online at thespicehouse.com or nativehispanic.com (for authentic Chimayó chile powder grown by Chimayó Chile Project farmers). Substitution Tip: Dried ancho chiles or ancho chile powder can be used in place of whole New Mexican chiles or chile powder.