There is quite a huge difference in chiles, which are actually a fruit and part of the nightshade family along with tomatoes and potatoes. Chiles are indiginous to the Americas. Now, as chiles are becoming more and more popular, I thought it best to acquaint everyone with the difference in pure, all natural ground chiles and the benefits thereof.
Pure ground chiles are much more consistent to use if getting them continuously from the same trusted supplier such as Pecos Valley Spice Co. (To order my pure ground chiles, go to www.janebutelcooking.com and select products. Ground chiles that come from companies such as Pecos Valley, which I founded in 1978 are always the same heat units, de-stemmed and completely pure--no salt or any additives whatsoever. Many competitors add silicones to keep the chiles free flowing and they add diethylene oxides to maintain color. Instead, we keep our chiles pure and fresh by refrigerating them and recommend storing them, once purchased in glass in either the refrigerator or the freezer.
Chili powder is quite a different product. It is a mix basically made from 40% salt, 40% ground chiles of who knows what variety blended with flavorings and additives. Chili Powder was probably the very first convenience mix--beating Betty Crocker and her cohorts by decades. It was first made by Gebhart, a man of German descent from Texas who created it for the convenience of the Confederate soldiers marching out of Texas. All they had to get was some beef and water and boom!* they had chili con carne.
The difference in the pot is huge! The pure ground chiles deliver a much clearer flavor that isnever salty, or heaven forbid, rancid and strong tasting. And the benefit of powders over pods is also consistency. You can have a variation of 15,000 heat units on any given plant, making cooking with pods impossible to predict the flavor. In powders all of the chiles are tested for heat units and kept to a constant heat, coloration and flavor. With pods, the heat and flavor consistency is NOT possible.
And better yet, when you work with powders you save 45 minutes of cooking and straining and blending.
Here is my favorite Red Chile Sauce that can be made in less than 5 minutes and creates the best tasting enchiladas. sauce over Burritos, Tamales and Beans. In New Mexico we like the flavor of chiles, so we make our Enchiladas open face. When you taste open face or flat Enchiladas, you really get to enjoy the finger lickin' flavor. And the health--chiles aid the health of your entire body--plus they go a long way towards curing health issues and preventing cancer and heart disease. Here's my favorite red Chile Sauce and Enchilada recipe. You can make them with beef or other meat or vegetarian.
Red Chile Beef Enchiladas
(Rolled & Santa Fe Style)
This is one of my very favorite dishes, especially when made with blue corn tortillas. It is a popular custom in New Mexico to place a soft-fried egg on top of each enchilada as soon as they come out of the oven.
Yield: 4-6 servings
12 white, yellow or blue corn tortillas (right from the package, do not need frying)
2 cups Red Chile Sauce (recipe below), made with beef
About 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack or Cheddar cheese
1 onion, chopped (may be cooked into the sauce)
4 to 6 eggs (optional), soft fried
6 to 8 Romaine and red leaf lettuce leaves (optional), coarsely chopped
2 ripe tomatoes (optional), cut in wedges
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. For Flat Enchiladas: Place a little chile sauce on a warmed plate, then top with a tortilla followed by cheese, onion, and more sauce. Repeat once or twice more, making a stack of 2 or 3 tortillas layered with cheese, onion, and sauce (see Note). Top each enchilada with more sauce and cheese. Place in the preheated oven until the cheese melts. Top with an egg, if desired, and garnish with the chopped lettuce and tomato wedges. These are traditional Santa Fe style.
3. For Rolled Enchiladas: Dip a lightly fried tortilla into the sauce and place a strip each of shredded cheese and chopped onion down the center. Roll up, place 2 rolled enchiladas on each warmed plate, and top with more sauce and cheese. Place in oven until cheese melts. Arrange lettuce around the edges before serving.
Note: Three tortillas make a very hearty serving. Most people prefer two.
Red Chile Sauce
This is the basic red chile sauce used to create enchiladas and to serve over burritos, chile rellenos, tamales, and chimichangas.
Yield: 2-1/2 cups
2 Tablespoons butter, lard or bacon drippings
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup ground mild red chile
1/4 cup ground hot red chile
2 cups beef stock, Vegetable stock or water
1 garlic clove, minced
Pinch of ground Mexican oregano
Pinch of ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon salt (if not using stock)
1. Melt butter in a medium-size saucepan over low heat. Add flour and stir until smooth and slightly golden.
Remove pan from heat and add ground chiles. Return to heat and gradually stir in stock. Add garlic, oregano, cumin, and salt, if using, and cook, stirring, about 10 minutes. Simmer at least 5 more minutes for flavors to blend.
Sauté 1 pound ground beef, or beef cut in very small cubes. Omit the shortening, and continue as directed above. Use for enchiladas.