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May 4, 2010 01:50 PM

Substitutions for Mexican chiles

Hi there,
I want to make this recipe:
I have all of the chiles the recipe calls for except chipotles and chilhuacles.
My question is, is there any way to do mixing and matching to achieve a similar flavor profile for the original recipe? I have dried red and green New Mexico chiles, and I can get any number of dried chiles used in Southeast Asian cooking. The Mexican chiles where I live are staggeringly expensive (think like $10 for a small bag), but if there's no way of making substitutions, I'll just have to bite the bullet.
Many thanks in advance!

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  1. chilhuacles are hard to find even in the USA. I doubt if there is a substitute. Just omit it.

    chipotles are smoke dried jalapenos. You could add the heat with any hot dried chile. You could get the smokiness using Spanish pimenton (are you in Euorpe?)

    Many Mole recipes use just anchos, or the trio of guajillo, ancho and passilla. Think of these chiles as providing the base notes to the sauce. They contribute a mix of bitter notes, much like what you would get from pure chocolate, and only a modest amount of heat.

    Most SE Asian chiles are too hot for a mole. Based on some discussions on Chow, some Kashmir chiles might be in the right heat range. One cookbook suggests substituting anchos from Spanish noras, so that substitution might work in the other direction.

    Note that all of these dried Mexican chiles produce a dark puree, not the bright red of paprika. Guajillo is the brightest red of these.

    Overall this is one of the more complex mole recipes. You don't need 24 ingredients to make a good complex mole sauce.

    2 Replies
    1. re: paulj

      Here's another thread in which I show my ignorance on chilhuacles and mole negro (black mole)

      1. re: paulj

        Thanks Paulj! I chose this because I know and love Susana's recipes - have you tried another mole recipe that's less picky but still tasty?