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© Copyright 1995-2017, Clay Irving <clay@panix.com>, Manhattan Beach, CA USA

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Chili Powder

Chili Powder Characteristics

Chili powder is different from ground red chile. Chili powder is was created in Texas in the late 1800's, but history is unclear about who actually invented it. Some chili historians credit the invention of the red dust to DeWitt Clinton Pendery of Fort Worth, who began selling his own brand of "Chiltomaline" powder to cafes and hotels in the early 1890s. It was Pendery who noted in his advertising: "The health giving properties of hot chile peppers have no equal. They give tone to the alimentary canal, regulating the functions, giving a natural appetite, and promoting healthy action of the kidneys, skin, and lymphatics." Pendery's company, first called The Mexican Chilley Supply Company, later changed its name to Pendery's, and it's still open and selling chili powder (and many other spices) today in Fort Worth.

Other sources insist that it was William Gebhardt of New Braunfels, Texas, who produced the first packaged chili powder in 1894. Two years before, Gebhardt had opened a café in back of Miller's Saloon and discovered that chili was the favorite food of his customers. But chili was a seasonal food because homegrown chiles were available only after the summer harvest. Gebhardt solved the problem by importing Mexican ancho chiles so that he could serve the dish year-round.

At first, Gebhardt ran the chiles through a home meat grinder three times. Later, according to a description of the time, Gebhardt "concocted a chili powder in a crude mill by grinding chile peppers, cumin seed, oregano, and black pepper through an old hammer mill, feeding a little of this and a little of that to the mill. What came out was put in little-necked bottles and then packed in a box for retail." At first he called the product "Tampico Dust," but he later changed the name to "Gebhardt's Eagle Chili Powder."

In 1896, Gebhardt opened a factory in San Antonio and was producing five cases of chili powder a week, which he sold from the back of his wagon as he drove through town. He was also an inventor, and eventually patented thirty-seven machines for his factory. By 1899, Gebhardt had received U.S. trademark number 32,329 for his Eagle Chili Powder. The Gebhardt brand is still in existence today.

Dried chiles are the main ingredient, enhanced by spices and herbs, mainly cumin and oregano, occasionally black pepper, dehydrated garlic, and onions. The original chili powders were pure, without the salt, anticaking agents, or flour that characterize many modern blends. Commercial chili powder found in stores today is a blend of chili peppers, cumin seed, oregano, garlic, usually salt, and sometimes cloves or allspice.

Chili powder is not always hot. It is usually used to dominate the flavor of a food but can be used as a background flavor. Chili powder has an earthly and slightly sweet flavor-imparting mild heat with the earthiness of cumin.

Chili powder is semi-perishable so it should be stored in a cool, dry dark place or refrigerated in hot climates. Although it can retain its flavor properties and strength for up to two years, for maximum product quality, blended seasonings should not be stored for more than one year.

Varieties

Chili Powder Recipes

AB's Chili Powder

3 ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded and sliced
3 cascabel chiles, stemmed, seeded and sliced
3 dried arbol chiles, stemmed, seeded and sliced
2 tablespoons whole cumin seeds
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Place all of the chiles and the cumin into a medium nonstick saute pan or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, moving the pan around constantly, until you begin to smell the cumin toasting, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Set aside and cool completely.

Once cool, place the chiles and cumin into the carafe of a blender along with the garlic powder, oregano, and paprika. Process until a fine powder is formed. Allow the powder to settle for at least a minute before removing the lid of the carafe. Store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.


CalTex Chili Powder

¼ cup toasted cumin seed, ground
2 tablespoons toasted coriander seed, ground
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon toasted teicherry black peppercorns, ground
2 ¼ teaspoons chipotle chilies, ground
1 ½ teaspoons pequin chiles with seeds, ground
¾ teaspoon dried cascabels with seeds, ground
½ teaspoon ginger, ground
1 teaspoon cloves, ground

Sift all the ingredients together and store in a tightly sealed jar.


Pepper Fool's Chili Powder #1

6 dried New Mexico hot peppers
6 dried Chipotle peppers
3 Pasilla Negro peppers
2 Mulato peppers
6 tablespoons cumin seed
6 tablespoons coriander seed
1 tablespoon whole cloves
3 tablespoons celery seed
2 tablespoons ground Cayenne

Break up the New Mexico, chipotle, and mulato chiles. Toast the chiles in small batches on an ungreased skillet, or comal over medium heat until they just begin to release their aroma. Do not let them darken or the may become bitter.

Toast the cumin, coriander, and cloves on an ungreased skillet, or comal over low heat until they release their fragrance and become lightly roasted, about three minutes.

Grind the toasted spices and celery seed (best to use a spice grinder).

Grind the chiles in a spice grinder or food processor.

Mix the ground chiles, spices, and ground cayenne. This receipe is an adaptation of one appearing in New Southwestern Cooking by Dille & Belsinger. Since I never have the chiles called for in the receipe, I invariably "wing it." The spices seem to be the important factor so substituting different chiles doesn't make a major difference in the finished product.


Chili Powder

6 dried New Mexico hot peppers
6 dried Chipotle peppers
3 Pasilla Negro peppers
2 Mulato peppers
6 tablespoons cumin seed
6 tablespoons coriander seed
1 tablespoon whole cloves
3 tablespoons celery seed
2 tablespoons ground Cayenne

Break up the New Mexico, chipotle, and mulato chiles. Toast the chiles in small batches on an ungreased skillet, or comal over medium heat until they just begin to release their aroma. Do not let them darken or the may become bitter.

Toast the cumin, coriander, and cloves on an ungreased skillet, or comal over low heat until they release their fragrance and become lightly roasted, about three minutes.

Grind the toasted spices and celery seed (best to use a spice grinder).

Grind the chiles in a spice grinder or food processor.

Mix the ground chiles, spices, and ground cayenne. This receipe is an adaptation of one appearing in New Southwestern Cooking by Dille and Belsinger. Since I never have the chiles called for in the receipe, I invariably "wing it." The spices seem to be the important factor so substituting different chiles doesn't make a major difference in the finished product.


Chili Powder

1 cup dried chili peppers, or ¾ cup crushed hot red pepper flakes
¼ cup ground cumin
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon cayenne or more to taste

Remove stems and most of seeds from the chili peppers;shred coarsely. Put all ingredients in blender and whirl until powdered; let chili powder settle before removing cover of blender.


Cookie's Chili Powder

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
5 tablespoon cumin powder
1 tablespoon oregano
2 tablespoon basil
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon garlic powder

Mix all well. Keep in glass container with seal. Use to taste in chili.


Homemade Chili Powder

3 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 tablespoon oregano
1 teaspoon red or cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder

Mix well. Place in an airtight container. Adjust red pepper to taste for a hot or mild blend. This makes 2/3 cup.


Red Chili Powder

Rinse chiles with cold water, dry. Place chiles on baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for about 2 minutes, until stiffened, turn frequently. Cool. Remove and discard stems, seeds, inner veins and any dark spots. Place chiles in electric blender, process at high speed until ground. Sieve powder to remove large flakes, if desired. Store in a cool, dark place or freeze.


Chili Powder

For chili seasoning, we make up batches consisting of 8 parts chili powder, 2 parts ground cumin, and 1 part crushed (not ground) cayenne peppers.


Chili Powder

To make seasoning from scratch, use the following (this is approximate, I usually just dump some in until it tastes right). This seasons one batch made with about 1 ½ pounds meat.

3 to 6 tablespoons pure ground chile such as New Mexico, Anaheim, Ancho, Chimayo, or any combination of these. Can use Mulato or Pasilla too, if available. Cayenne pepper to taste; depends on how hot the above chile powder is and how hot you like it. Probably about 1 teaspoon to start with for medium-hot. 1 teaspoon garlic powder (I use fresh garlic, 2 large cloves) 2 teaspoons oregano, 2 to 3 teaspoons cumin.


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