Ancho Chile Harissa

Ancho (Ahn-cho) Chile (Capsicum Annum) means Wide Chile Pepper. This chile ranges from 3 – 4 on a heat scale of 1 to 10. An Ancho is the dried form of a Poblano Pepper and often is mislabeled as a Pasilla or Mulato Pepper. Anchos have sweet fruity flavor with hints of cherry, prune, and fig. Anchos, combined with the Pasilla and Guajillo, form the Holy Trinity of chiles used to prepare the traditional mole sauces. Scoville heat units are 1,000 to 3,000.

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5 ancho chiles, seeded and stemmed
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. cold water
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Soak the chiles in hot water until they are soft, about 1 hour. Drain the chiles and transfer them to a food processor. Add the remaining ingredients and puree until the sauce is very smooth. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Store the harissa in a container with a thin layer of olive oil on top to prevent discoloration. The sauce will keep in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.

Harissa is a North African inspired sauce made with anchos (dried poblano chiles) and is spicy but not fiery — a bold complement to the big flavor of roasted and grilled meats and poultry dishes.

Recipe from Fine Cooking Magazine.