Ancho-Guajillo Chile Sauce

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.

Suggested Use:
Anchos are great in salsa, soups, enchilada and any sauce needing mild heat and chile flavor. Chopped, pureed or ground, they can be added directly to your recipes.

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9 dried ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded, and torn into pieces
6 dried guajillo chiles, stemmed, seeded and torn into pieces
5 cups very hot water
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
2 tsp. fine sea salt


Heat a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add all the chile pieces and cook just until the chiles blister, pressing with metal spatula and turning occasionally, about 30 seconds. Transfer the chiles to a bowl and add the 5 cups of very hot water. Soak the chiles until very tender, pushing occasionally to submerge them, about 30 minutes.

Working in 3 batches, puree the chiles with the soaking liquid and all the remaining ingredients in a blender until smooth. Season the sauce with more salt, if desired. (Can be made 1 day ahead of time. Cover and refrigerate.)

Recipe from Bon Appetit Magazine, May 2003.