Chipotle Ancho Chile Pesto

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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2 ancho chiles, dried
1 red bell pepper
2 chipotle chiles, canned (to use dried, rehydrate in hot water first)
1/3 cup pine nuts
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves
1 Tbsp. olive oil

Remove the stems and seeds from the ancho chiles. Place the chiles in a large bowl. Cover with boiling water. Let stand until soft, about 30 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 tablespoon soaking liquid.

Roast bell pepper over gas flame or in broiler until blackened on all sides. Seal in paper bag and let stand 15 minutes. Peel, stem and seed pepper.

In processor, blend Ancho chiles, 1 tablespoon soaking liquid, bell pepper, chipotles, pine nuts, fresh lemon juice and garlic until almost smooth. With machine running, gradually add olive oil; process until smooth. If pesto is dry, mix in some broth by spoonfuls. Season with salt.

Cover and refrigerate up to 2 days or freeze up to 1 week. Bring to room temperature before using.

If you prefer a milder sauce, use only one chipotle chile in this recipe; if you like your food super spicy, use two.

Makes about 1-1/3 cups