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A Guide to Dried Chiles: 5 Essentials for Mexican Cooking

Chipotle Mora Chile

Perhaps the most well known and versatile chile, chipotles are red jalapeños that have been smoked and dried, deepening the flavor. Wrinkled and dark reddish brown, they are widely sold canned in adobo sauce and can be used in the same way as the plain dried chiles. The seeds and veins do not need to be removed before adding to recipes like albóndigas al chipotle or bringing smoke and spice to seafood.

Guajillo Chile

These deep burgundy chiles, about 5 to 6 inches long, range from mild to medium heat and have a complex woodsy quality that is more smoke than fire. Derived from fresh mirasol peppers, they mostly grown in central and northern Mexico and rival anchos in popularity. Smooth, tough-skinned, and tapered, they are commonly soaked before being blended into sauces, pastes or rubs for meat and poultry. For added heat, substitute puya (also sold as pulla) chiles.

Pasilla/Pasilla Negro Chile

Pasilla translates to “little raisin” and, in this case, there is a lot to the name. Wrinkled and nearly black, these chiles come from dried chilacas and have a subtle fruitiness that plays out well in elaborate moles and rich sauces. Also known as pasilla negro, they are about 6 to 7 inches long and range from moderate to hot. Quickly fried, they puff up nicely and can be crumbled as a garnish for soups and stews.

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