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Jul 5, 2013 04:02 PM

Chili powder questions.

Hi all!

I have a recipe that I'm looking at making and it is very confusing. It's located here:

Now the problem I have is all the different chili/chile powders in his ingredient list.

What is the difference between "New Mexico Chili Powder" and "New Mexico Light Chili Powder"?
Could he mean Chile Powder instead of Chili Powder?
If so, then why does it call for "New Mexico Ground Chili Pepper" as well?
And what about the regular vs. light?
Then what is "Texas Style Chili Powder" and how is that different from "Gebhardt's Chili Powder"?

Good googly goo! I can't make sense of all that. I mean I know what a New Mexico chile is (and how to grind it, of course) and I know what Gebhardt's Chili Powder is but all the rest is confusing to me.

Any suggestions on what to do here?

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  1. My guess is that he means "chile" not "chili". Some spell checks don't recognize chile as a proper word (not CH, thank goodness).

    Honestly, I would run from this recipe, which seems complicated beyond necessity. And the final "add Tabasco for heat" made we wonder why it couldn't be made hot enough with all those chile powders?

    6 Replies
    1. re: dkenworthy

      Plus what sort of weirdo thinks Tabasco adds heat? I think when added to something I notice it amping up the vinegar way before I notice much heat.

      1. re: dkenworthy

        Yes, but he still called for ground chiles too. It's very strange.

        It's a big award winner, but it's overly confusing.

        1. re: magnoliasouth

          He's also weirdly specific about some things that are totally better done differently. Swanson broth? Homemade is always better. I make my own chili powder to my tastes -- it's more satisfying to blend my own. I use fresh garlic and onions rather than powder. And Tabasco? Seriously?

          If this is world champion chili I should start competing,

          1. re: magnoliasouth

            I did some googling and I'm no more clear on it. Four different types of chile powder? What's the difference between New Mexico ground chile powder and New Mexico chile powder? We've also got New Mexico hot chile powder and New Mexico light chile powder. Weird.

            I make my own by grinding anchos, chipotle mecos, and guajillos and adding cumin and a touch of coriander seed. Sometimes I'll play with it some, but that's the basic recipe.

            1. re: JonParker

              OK, here it is. New Mexico Chile Powder is made form peppers grown in and around Chimayo New Mexico. the difference in the regular and light New Mexico Chile powders are the regular are more hot and are ground with the seeds and stems included. The light version the powder is ground with the stems and seeds removed. These recipes are provided as required if you win an ICS (International Chili Society) World Championship. So although the recipe seems complete I am sure that Bob has a blend of his own call "Texas Style" Chili Powder. You can replace this with any store bought chili powder or your own blend, including Gebhardt, which is really good. Then as far as fresh onion and garlic, this makes the chili chunky, not smooth, which is the worse for championship chili. World championship chili is just meat and sauce, deductions in scoring for anything else in the chili. That is why powder is used. Hope I cleard a couple of things up for you. Good luck and keep cooking Chili.

              1. re: hillljr2

                Many thanks. Your post along with CDouglas helps me tremendously. I didn't know that about fresh garlic and onions and now that I think about it, I can see why it's the powder.

                Not only is it more smooth, but it's also how it would have been used in the old west days. Everything was dried, to include garlic and onions.

                I also agree with everyone else about Tabasco, which should never be in a chili. Totally different flavor!

        2. I just found this recipe in one of my magazines food network I went to the store looking for all of those powders could only find 2 and they really seem to be the same and as for the Texas Chili Powder I'm from Texas and have no clue what they are talking about either.

          1 Reply
          1. re: tazzster

            Have to order them, most stores do not carry that variety.


          2. As this recipe adds its own cumin, garlic/onion powder and paprika it is calling for ground "chile pepper" not "chili powder" (two different things entirely).

            The recipe itself is styled after many of the traditional CASI/ICS winning recipes of the past decade. Note the use of beef and chicken broth, 1 can of tomato sauce and the stealth MSG additives of beef/chicken granules and seasoned salt.

            Light New Mexico chile pepper is made from green not red chiles. It has a fruitier, less earthy flavor to me. I like it but not for chili. New Mexico Hot chile pepper, NM green and Texas Red Dog chile pepper are competition staples provided by Pendery's. For me a blend of ancho and New Mexican red chile pepper forms the basis of chili. Garlic and onion powder are used to contribute to the smoothness of the gravy and the consistency of the recipe. Fresh garlic and onion can run bland or hot depending on what you happen to pick up from the grocery store.

            Gebhardt is a "chili" powder meaning it contains ground chiles, cumin, garlic etc...

            The pitted prunes addition is a gimmick made to be a signature/marking/secret ingredient tag.

            Tabasco does not belong anywhere near chili.

            I also find tri-tip to be gamy/livery and I would never use it for chili. I prefer small cubes of flank steak or short rib.

            I can't imagine this recipe being very good for eating chili. Maybe worth a tasting spoonful or two at a competition but that would be about it.

            2 Replies
            1. re: CDouglas

              Excellent answer and thank you for taking the time to explain the different NM chiles. I'm new to chile experimentation so I seriously needed your little primer.

              "Gebhardt is a "chili" powder meaning it contains ground chiles, cumin, garlic etc..."

              Right and this completely confuses me. Why would you use a blend when you already have the ingredients that it was blended with? Why not make your own? It's almost as though he just grabbed a bunch of containers and threw them in. :/

              Interesting about the prunes. I Googled that and some insist it adds a "richness" to the gravy but all I hear is fiber which has no room in chili, or at least chili in my kitchen.

              I was originally looking at this because I wanted to make an award winning chili for my husband, who is a chili fiend. After looking at it though it didn't appear to be all it was cracked up to be.

              1. re: magnoliasouth

                You're welcome.

                Here is a completely over-the-top article and recipe for chili that hits all of the basics but goes overboard in the flavor department in my opinion:

                In my experience a person's chili preference is largely (maybe solely) dependent on what they ate and enjoyed when they first experienced it. Endless debates about tomatoes, beans, chile powder vs. puree, chocolate, cinnamon, coffee etc... wind up going nowhere because chili preference is subjective. I can't say what should or should not be in another person's chili but I know with absolute certainty what I like and don't like in mine. I appreciate anyone who likes a good bowl of red however they choose to have it.

                Alton Brown has a solid, if slightly eccentric, homemade chili powder recipe that is very good:

                Competition chili, which usually are the ones that win awards and internet acclaim, don't make a good bowl of eating chili. They are designed to be one hit wonders for judges who get only a few spoonfuls before they move on to the next entry. Therefore they need to be highly seasoned and crafted to pack flavor into one punch. A ramekin sized portion of this chili would be great, a big bowl would be overwhelming.