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Heat: 3
The most common dried chile in Mexico, the ancho is a dried red poblano chile, and has a fruity, slightly sharp flavor. When rehydrated, anchos can be used to make stuffed chiles (chiles rellenos), but should not be peeled first.

The name means "little rattle" and refers to the noise that the seeds make inside the chile. This chile has a chocolate brown skin, and remains dark, even after soaking. Cascabels have a slightly nutty flavor and are often added to salsas such as tomate verde.

Bright deep orange-red with a splotchy skin. Elongated and tapered, measuring about 3 to 5 inches long and 1/2 to 3/4 inch across at the shoulders. Thin fleshed, with a dusty, dry medium heat and an orangey sweetness with hints of all-spice and fennel. Used in salsas, soups, tamales, and mole sauces.

Related to the chilhuacle negro and chilhuacle rojo chiles. Dark amber to reddish yellow in color, broad shouldered and tapering to a point. Measures about 2 to 3 inches long and 1-1/2 inches across at the shoulders. Medium thick fleshed, with a tart heat. The complex flavor is a little salty and acidic, with bitter orange and sour cherry tones, some melon and seediness, and sweetness in the finish. Mainly used to prepare yellow moles and other sauces.

This prized and very expensive chile is grown, like the related chilhuacle amarillo, only in southern Mexico. Shiny, dark, mahogany in color, and shaped like a miniature bell pepper or almost heart shaped. Measures about 2 to 3 inches long and the same across at the shoulders. One of the most flavorful of all chiles, it has a deep, intense fruit flavor, with tones of dried plum, tobacco, and liquorice, and a subtle, spicy heat. Used to make the black mole sauces that are a specialty of the Oaxaca region.

Like the chilhuacle amarillo and chilhuacle negro, this chile is grown exclusively in southern Mexico. Dark red to mahogany in color, and either shaped like a miniature bell pepper or broad shouldered and tapering to a point. Measures about 2 to 3 inches long and 1-1/2 inches across at the shoulders. Richer and deeper flavors than the chilhuacle amarillo, with tones of dried figs, licorice and a hint of wild cherry. Has a medium, sweet heat. It is used in the preparation of certain special mole sauces.

Bright orange-red, thin, usually curved, and tapering to a point. Measures about 2 inches long and 1/4 to 3/8 inch across at the shoulders. Thin fleshed; has a dry hay flavor, with nutty and sun-dried tomato tones, and a sharp, searing heat on the tip of the tongue. Primarily used in making sauces and pestos.

CHIPOTLE Heat: 5-6
A large, dried, smoked jalapeno; also known as a chile ahumado or a chile meco. Dull tan to a coffee brown in color, veined and ridged, measuring about 2 to 4 inches long and about 1 inch across. Medium thick fleshed, smoky and sweet in flavor with tobacco and chocolate tones and a subtle, deep, rounded heat. As much as one-fifth of the Mexican jalapeno crop is processed as chipotles. Used mainly in soups, salsas, and sauces. Chipotles are widely used in Mexican and Southwestern cooking. They are available canned in a red adobo sauce. The chipotle grande, a smoked dried huachinango chile has similar flavors, but is large.

COSTEÑO Heat: 6-7
Related to the guajillo chile; also known as a chile bandeno. Orange-red in color, tapering to a point, and measuring about 2 to 3 inches long and 1/2 to 3/4 inch across at the shoulders. Thin to medium fleshed; has dusty, green, soapy flavors with apricot fruit tones and a fiery, intense, lingering heat. Good in salsas, sauces and soups.

Shiny, amber in color, tapering to a point, and measuring about 2 to 3 inches long and 3/4 to 1 inch across at the shoulders. Wafer-thin flesh; has a light, crisp, lemon-citrus flavor with green tomato and grassy tones, and a subtle heat. Used in the preparation of yellow mole sauces. Also good in soups and stews.

FRESNO Heat: 8
Looking much like elongated sweet peppers, fresnos are about 2 1/2 inches long and 3/4 inch wide. They have a hot, sweet flavor and are used in salsas, as well as in meat, fish and vegetable dishes. They are particularly good in black bean salsa and guacamole.

Another popular dried chile in Mexican cuisine, the guajillo is used in sauces or stews. It is about 5 inches long and 1 inch wide, and has a burgundy-colored skin. A paste made from guajillos is often used for spreading on meat before cooking.

This is the grandaddy of them all, a chile so hot that when it is puréed, even the fumes from the blender can scorch the skin. Lantern-shaped, it is about 1 3/4 inches long and 1 1/4 inches wide, and is also called Scotch Bonnet. Habañero are often used to make bottled hot chili sauces.

Jalapeños are one of the most famous chile peppers. They are instantly recognizable and a considerable mythology has sprung up about them. The impetus for the popularity of Jalapeños starts from a combination of their unique taste, their heat, and their continued use as a snack food. The Jalapeño was named after the city of Xalapa in Veracruz, Mexico, where it is no longer commercially grown In Mexico, commercial cultivation measures approximately 40,000 acres in three main agricultural zones: especially the Lower Palaloapan River Valley in Oaxaca. In the Chihuahua region they grow the American Jalapeños, which are processed and exported into the U.S. Approximately 60% of the Mexican Jalapeño crop is used for processing, 20% for fresh consumption, and 20% in production of chipotle chiles, the smoked Jalapeños. Generally speaking, chipotle in English refers to any smoked chile pepper.

The Spanish word chipotle is a contraction of chilpotle in the Nahuatl language of the Aztecs, where chili referred to the hot pepper and potle was derived from poctli, meaning smoked. The word was apparently reversed from Nahuatl, where it originally was spelled pochilli. Other early spellings in Mexico are tzilpoctil, tzonchilli, and texochilli. The most commonly smoked chiles are Jalapeños, named for the city of Jalapa in the state of Veracruz. They are also known in Mexico as cuaresmeños, or Lenten chiles. In Puebla, Central Mexico, and Oaxaca, Jalapeños are known as Huachinango, while in coastal Mexico and Veracruz they are called chiles Gordos.

MORA Heat: 6
Also known as mora rojo. Like the chipotle chile, the mora is a type of dried, smoked jalapeno. Reddish brown in color, tapered and wrinkled, and measuring about 2 inches long and 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide. Medium fleshed; has a sweet mesquite wood flavor with strong tobacco and plum tones. Has a medium heat that is somewhat lingering. The mora grande is a larger version of this chile. It is brownish black in color, measures about 2 1/2 to 3 inches long, and has similar flavor characteristics. Can be used in salsas and sauces.

ONZA Heat: 4-5
Rare chile. Bright brick-red, tapered, and measuring about 3 inches long and 1/2 inch across. Thin-fleshed; slightly sweet and also slightly acidic, with flavors of carrot and tomato, and a crisp heat noticeable at the back of the throat. Mainly used in sauces and soups. PASADA Heat: 3 This chile is crisply dried, and has citrus and apple flavors. It is used in soups and in sauces used for cooking meat or fish.

A smoked chile grown only in the Oaxaca region. Shiny red-mahogany in color, very wrinkled, tapered, and measuring about 3 to 4 inches long and 1 to 11/2 inches across. Thin fleshed; has an acrid fruit smoke flavor with strong tobacco tones and a sharp, lingering heat. Mainly used for the rellenos that are a regional specialty.

Like many chiles, poblanos are initially green, and ripen to a dark red. They are large chiles, being roughly 3 1/2 inches long and 2 1/4 inches wide, and are sometimes said to be heart-shaped. although not very hot, poblanos have a rich, earthy flavor which is intensified when the chiles are roasted and peeled. They are widely used in Mexican cooking, notably in stuffed chiles (chiles Rellenos). Anaheim chiles, which are widely available in the United States and sometimes in the United Kingdom, can be substituted for poblanos.

This is a small chile, about 1 1/2 - 2 inches long and 1/2 inch wide, with a pointed tip. Serrano chiles change from green to red when ripe, and are sold at both stages of their development. The flavor is clean and biting. Serranos are used in cooked dishes, Guacamole and salsas.


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