Why It Works
- A blend of dried whole chilies gives you better flavor than any dried-chili powder.
- Simmering the chilies and puréeing them eliminates any gritty texture.
Whether you're making real Texas-style chile con carne (no beans, please!); a quick weeknight ground-beef-and-canned-bean chili; or even a vegan or vegetarian version, the best thing you can do to up your chili game is to leave those jars of pre-ground chili powder on the shelf. Starting your chili with real, honest-to-goodness whole dried chilies will save you money, while adding layer upon layer of complex flavor that you never thought was possible.
- 3 whole sweet fresh dried chilies, such as costeño, New Mexico, or choricero, stems and seeds removed
- 2 small hot dried chilies, such as árbol or cascabel, stems and seeds removed
- 3 whole rich, fruity dried chilies, such as ancho, mulato, negro, or pasilla, stems and seeds removed
- 2 whole chipotle dried chilies canned in adobo sauce, plus 2 tablespoons (30ml) sauce
- 1 quart (950ml) homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock
Place chilies on a microwave-safe plate and microwave on high at 15-second intervals until hot, pliable, and toasted-smelling, about 30 seconds total.
Combine all chilies in a medium saucepan and add chicken broth. Simmer over medium-high heat until chilies are completely tender, about 10 minutes. Alternatively, place chilies and chicken broth in a 2-quart microwave-safe container, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave on high power until liquid is simmering, about 5 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes. Transfer to a countertop blender or hand blender cup and blend until completely smooth.
Store chili paste in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Alternatively, divide paste into ice cube trays, freeze, and transfer frozen chili paste cubes into freezer bags to store in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Countertop blender or hand blender
Chili purée can be substituted about 4:1 for chili powder (i.e., use four tablespoons of purée for every tablespoon of powder called for in a recipe). It can be stored by freezing it in an ice cube tray, popping out the cubes, and placing them in a freezer bag for up to six months.