Robust, with a wonderful balance of sweet and dry spices, mild to medium heat level, and a beautiful richness tempered with just a bit of acidity. This paste can form the base for many many recipes, enchilada sauce, coney sauce, chili, BBQ sauce, add a touch to beans or refritos, use it to kick up some bland salsa, smear some in your tamales, or add it to a bechamel for an insanely yum fusion pasta dish….the possibilities are endless and having some on hand in the freezer can make for some almost instant meals later on.
2g | ½ tsp black peppercorns
2g | 3 turkish bay leaves
1g | 6 allspice berries
7 whole cloves
6g | 1 Tbsp whole cumin
1g | ½ tsp whole coriander
1.3g | 1 ½ tsp dry thyme
1.5g | 1 ½ tsp dry mexican oregano
3.5g | 1 tsp cocoa powder
2g | ½ tsp cinnamon
8g | 2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
5g | 1 tsp chipotle powder
4.5g | 1 ½ tsp garlic granules
7g | 2 tsp onion powder
35g | 1.25oz dried chiles, stems, seeds and membranes removed*
475g/ml | 2 cups broth, divided (can use vegetable broth or the cooking liquid from beans if you make beans, don’t use the gross stuff from cans)
5g | ¾ tsp salt
9g | 1 ½ tsp miso (aka, shinshu, or shiro) OR liquid aminos, tamari, or soy sauce
15g | 1 Tbsp tomato paste (leave out if you want it totally tomato free)
180g | 1 large red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and rough chopped
30ml | 2 Tbsp oil
Grind whole spices and herbs (first 7 ingredients) until powdered, add powdered spices and cocoa, combine well
Cut chiles into 1 inch pieces and rinse in water, pat dry with towel and set aside
Heat oven to 250F Toast/Dry chiles at 250F for 8-10 minutes until dry and lightly toasted (the color will darken on the red chiles and the aroma will be different and very fragrant - you can go longer for a deeper flavor, just be careful not to burn them, which will make them bitter)
While chiles are toasting, bring 1 cup of broth to a boil
Add chiles to broth and cover, set aside to hydrate for 15-20 minutes, or until chiles are soft
Place everything except oil and remaining broth into blender and process until smooth (add more broth as needed to facilitate blending)
Heat a shallow pan over medium to medium-high heat until hot (water droplet will dance and evaporate almost immediately), add oil to coat pan then add in chile paste
Turn heat down to medium-low and cook, while stirring, until the paste holds its shape when a spoon is drawn through and the color has darkened (about 10-15 minutes for a single batch)
Remove from heat and add in any remaining broth
Add enough water to bring the mixture to 2 cups, at this point you can blend again if you’d like a smoother texture (i do)
Will keep for at least a week in the fridge, or 6 months in the freezer
*we use ½ an ancho, 1 ½ new mexico, 1 pasilla, 1 ½ guajillo and 2 california -- use whatever chiles you like or have on hand or can easily find, try and use at least two for more rounded flavor, this blend provides what we would consider a medium heat level for chili, with a nice balance of flavours
There are quite a few components to this one, but really the prep time isn’t too bad and goes quicker than you think. Plus, it barely takes any more time to create a double (or triple) batch, as most of the prep time is measuring. Let’s talk about the dry chiles first, you can use whatever blend of chiles you prefer, i would highly recommend using at least three different kinds in order to get a more complex flavour. Typically i use a combo of ancho, california, guajillo, new mexico, and pasilla, which gives a nice balance of heat and fruitiness, along with some nice nutty notes. Keep in mind when choosing your chiles that sweet smoked paprika and chipotle are already in the recipe separately, so unless you want your chili very smoky, you may want to avoid more smoked chiles.
Fresh red bell peppers bring in some acidity, sweetness, and freshness, while contributing to a smoother mouthfeel in the end. Miso and tomato paste bring some extra umami, as does the vegetable broth which also provides the bulk of the liquid. Allspice and clove bring sweet spice notes and help to round out flavours, bay leaves bring in some light nutty tea notes, coriander for bright citrus flavours, peppercorns and cinnamon for dry warmth, thyme and mexican oregano for some much needed herbal notes, cumin for earthiness, onion and garlic for sweetness and a little body, and finally cocoa powder for depth and richness.
Once your measuring is done, the hardest part is over, the rest is pretty easy. The chiles get toasted and soaked to soften them, everything gets blended and then cooked down for a bit and you’re done! It really is surprisingly easy and again, feel free to double or triple (maybe even quadruple) your batch and throw it in the freezer for later, it keeps for at least 6 mos in there and you’ll have it on hand for next time.
In order to keep things consistent for use in recipes, after your paste reaches the point where it’s thick enough to hold shape when your spoon (or whatever stirring device you’re using) is pulled through it you’re going to dilute it with water to a set amount (2 cups for a single a batch), this will make sure your paste is the same concentration every time, so you don’t have to finagle and tinker with the amounts further down the line to get the same results in your other recipes. Also, a final blending after cooking can help give you an even smoother texture, but this step is completely optional, don’t feel like you HAVE to do it, maybe you like yours a little more textural, that’s perfectly good. Go for it.
As a last note, keep in mind if you make larger batches that your cooking time for the paste will increase because of the larger volume, choosing your widest and shallowest pan will help to speed things up (greater surface area and higher evaporation rate) so use my times listed as guidelines and starting points, not absolutes, you are going for a certain level of thickness here, that’s the important part.