Chili Powder, New Mexican Details
New Mexico Chile Powder, also known as New Mexico chili powder, New Mexico red chile powder, or New Mexican chili powder, boasts an earthy, sweet flavor with hints of acidity, weediness, and dried cherry undertones. With a heat level of 800-1,400 SHU, it is considered a mild heat chile, yet more flavorful than California Chiles (500-1,000 SHU). Unlike typical "chili powder," which is a seasoning blend made from ground chile(s), cumin, oregano, garlic, and several other spices, New Mexico Chile Powder is ground New Mexican grown chile peppers. Its deep dark reddish-brown color and unique flavor make it a staple in Southwestern and New Mexican cuisine, particularly in traditional red chile sauces.
New Mexico's high altitude, desert climate, and rocky soil provide a one-of-a-kind growing region in the Hatch Valley with a unique terroir that contributes to the flavor of the chiles grown there. To ensure optimal growth and disease resistance, seeds from specific chile plants from previous years are carefully selected. A deep, well-drained, medium-textured sandy loam, or loam soil, is best for producing chiles. Good yields often result from planting chiles in a place that contained a flood-irrigated crop the previous year.
Chile peppers are harvested for maximum flavor and color when the fruit has partially dried on the plant. The highest yields and most flavorful chiles occur when harvested in the period between late October and early November before the first seasonal freeze. Approximately 85% of the red chile crop in New Mexico is mechanically harvested. Once harvested, chile peppers are transported to the processor and move through a dry-reel, a sorting line, a chlorinated wash, a rock tank, a final rinse, and a slicer before dehydration. Ground chiles lose their flavor and color faster than whole pods during storage, so red chile is often stored as flakes before final grinding to powder.
New Mexico Chile Powder is a versatile ingredient that can be used to add zest to a variety of dishes, including carne adovada, chili, enchiladas, mac and cheese, salsas, sauces, stews, tamales, and numerous vegetable dishes. Its unique flavor and mild heat make it a must-have for any authentic New Mexican flair.