A Mild, Slightly Sweet Dried Chile
If you are cooking Mexican, you will be using many types of chiles both fresh and dried. The ancho chile, a poblano chile that has been dried, is a staple in Mexican cooking. It serves as the base of an infinite variety of sauces and salsas. Ancho means wide. Therefore, in Spanish, it’s known as the “wide” chile.
The ancho is a slightly sweet mild dried Chile with a smell very similar to raisins. It has a lot of flesh which gives sauces and salsas good body. Sauces prepared with anchos have a rich deep red color which looks beautiful on the plate. Anchos add a lot of flavor to a dish but little heat. If you are new to cooking with dried chiles this is a good one to start with.
How to Choose
Always look for chiles that are soft and pliable. Avoid any that look dry and dusty and are hard and brittle. They are past their prime. They will lack flavor and can be bitter. They also don’t reconstitute well so they won’t provide enough body to a sauce.
Where to Buy
Ancho chiles should be available in any supermarket that carries dried chiles. Markets that cater to Mexican shoppers will have the freshest chiles because there will be a high turnover. If you are unable to find them at your local store, you can order them online through MexGrocer or Amazon.