Cafe Pasqual’s Three-Chile Salsa

The Guajillo (wha-hee-oh) chile is the most common dried chile in Mexico after the Ancho. The flavor of the Guajillo is distinct, slightly fruity with a strong piney, berry under taste. Guajillo flavors dished easily so a little goes a long way. This chile is between a 2-4 on the heat scale of 1-10. Guajillo, combined with the Passilla and Ancho, form the holy trinity of chiles used to prepare the traditional mole sauces.

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3 dried guajillo chilies
3 dried chiles de arbol
1/3 pound tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and halved
1 firm-ripe tomato (1/2 pound), rinsed, cored, and quartered
1 fresh jalapeno chile, rinsed and stemmed
2 tablespoons chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, peeled
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. dried Mexican or regular oregano

Trim and discard the stems from the guajillos and chiles de arbol. Discard the seeds from the guajillos and rinse the chiles.

In a 2-3 quart pan, combine the dried chiles, tomatillos, tomato, jalapeno, onion, garlic, 3/4 tsp. of salt, and 1 cup of water. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir frequently until the dried chilies are limp, about 10-15 minutes. Let the mixture cool for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in an 8-10″ frying pan over low heat, stir the cumin, cloves and oregano until fragrant, about 4 minutes.

Combine the chile mixture and the spices in a blender. Whirl until the ingredients are coarsely pureed. Add salt to taste, then pour into a bowl.

Yields about 1-1/2 cups.

Recipe by Chef Katharine Kagel, from Sunset Magazine, March 2000.