Potato and Chorizo Ancho Stuffed Chiles

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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8 large dried ancho chiles* (3-4 oz. total)
1 (14-15oz.) can stewed tomatoes (with juice)
2 medium russet (baking) potatoes (1 pound total)
1/4 pounds of Spanish chorizo** (cured spiced pork sausage; not picante), casing discarded and sausage finely chopped (1 cup)
3/4 pound Monterey Jack cheese, cut into 1/3″ cubes (2-1/3 cups)
Special equipment: an electric coffee/spice grinder


Rinse the chiles, then cover with cold water in a bowl and soak, weighted with a sieve (to keep submerged), until completely rehydrated (most will turn a brighter red), about 8 hours. Do not drain chiles.

Put the oven rack in the middle position and preheat oven to 350F.

Remove 1 chile from the soaking liquid, and working over the chile bowl and sieve, cut a slit down one side of the chile with scissors. Let the interior liquid and the loose seeds drain into the sieve. Carefully cut out the seedpod, leaving the stem intact and letting any easily loosened seeds fall into the sieve, then discard the seedpod. Repeat with the remaining chiles, arranging them, cut sides up, in 1 layer in a 13″x9″x2″ (3-quart) baking dish.

Reserve 1 cup of the chile-soaking liquid for the sauce. Turn the chile seeds out of the sieve and into a shallow baking pan and spread evenly, then toast in oven, stirring occasionally, until dry, fragrant, and a few shades darker, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool the seeds in pan on a rack, then finely grind them in a grinder (you will have about 1 tablespoon).

Purée the tomatoes, including the juice from the can, in a blender with the reserved soaking water, ground chile seeds and 1/2 teaspoon of salt until smooth, then transfer to a 3-quart heavy saucepan and boil, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened slightly and reduced to about 2 cups, 5 to 7 minutes.

Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/3″ cubes (about 2-1/2 cups). Cook in a 3-quart pot of boiling salted water until tender but not falling apart, 6-8 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water to stop cooking.

Stir together the potatoes, chorizo, cheese and 1/4 tsp. of salt in a bowl, then fill the chiles generously with the stuffing (about 1/2 cup each; slit will not close over it). Pour some sauce around (not over) the chiles, then cover the dish with foil and bake until the sauce is bubbling all over, 35-45 minutes.

Recipe from Gourmet Magazine, October 2005.