I always try to eat delicious food. Unfortunately I don't have that much money, so I have to cook a lot of it at home. But thats OK because I love cooking and I love eating at home with my wife. This is a website with my favorite recipes and a little bit of commentary.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Make Your Own Chili Powder!

After all this research on Cincinnati Chili I had an "oh duh" moment. I grow my own chiles and I often grind dried chiles and add them to my chili. Why not make my own chili powder from scratch?

When I was on a rotation in Topeka, Kansas for 3 months I bought a bag of home-made chili powder from a grocery store there. It had all sorts of exotic ingredients in it like cloves, cinnamon, heather etc. I used to love cooking with it because it was so different from the mass produced store brands. I don't know why the thought didn't occur to me back then. I had a few dozen pepper plants of various varieties growing in my garden. Thankfully I was smart enough to dry a bunch of them and smoke some jalapenos to make chipotles. I still have a bag of dried chiles in my freezer, including Caribbean Red Hots, the variety that famously choked my friend W after he was tricked into eating one.

Today I decided to make a basic recipe for chili powder. I plan to add more varieties of dried chiles as they become available and I will keep an eye out for more exotic spices that might taste good. Consider this a test run. It is better if you can start from whole chiles but you may not be able to find the whole chiles. I pity you. I don't know how you could substitute for the New Mexico Chiles but Kroger sells ancho powder and chipotle powder.

Home Made Chili Powder
Makes 1 pint of tasty chili powder

10 dried New Mexico Chiles, seeded, toasted and finely ground
3 dried ancho chiles, seeded, toasted and finely ground (substitute 3 T ancho powder)
3 dried cayenne peppers, seeded, toasted and finely ground (substitute 3 t cayenne pepper)
3 dried chipotle peppers, seeded, toasted and finely ground (substitute 2 T dried chipotle powder from the store)
6 T paprika
1 dried Carribean Red Hot, seeded, toasted and finely ground (substitute???)
4 t ground Mexican Oregano
3 T garlic powder
3T cumin seeds, toasted and finely ground

1) Preheat oven to 300. Take your chiles and tear them open, discarding the seeds. Tear them into inch square pieces and lay them on a cookie sheet.

Bake them in the oven until they are a little crispy and starting to darken in color. It will take different times for each chile but start looking at about 4 minutes. Toasting the chiles this way does two things. First, it "releases the oils" and gives everything a little bit different taste. Second, it is very hard to grind chiles that haven't been toasted. Untoasted chiles will gunk up your spice grinder and it will be hard to get them into powder form. Once all your chiles are toasted, grind them in small batches in a spice grinder or a coffee grinder until a fine powder.

2) Toast your cumin seeds by adding them to a cast iron skillet which has been preheated over medium-high heat. You will know they are done when they are a little darker than the untoasted ones and a few of them let out puffs of smoke. Grind the toasted cumin seeds using your grinder.

3) Put the ground chiles and cumin in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Stir to combine very well. Place into a jar and label.