Is it getting hot in here, or is it just the chili paste?

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Taken from The Food Lab by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

It doesn’t look like much right now, a somewhat disturbing tar-colored substance, but man oh man does it ever smell good. I’ll be using this tomorrow, meh maybe tonight even, for a batch of Beef Short-Rib Chili with Beans. I hear the Texans crying into their sweet tea already.

It’s pretty easy to make if you can get your hands on good, almost leathery (but not over dried and crackly) chiles. I ended up going to two stores to find mine. If you have a decent Mexican grocery in your area too, you’re probably all set.

6 Ancho chiles, de-stemmed and deseeded and torn into 1-inch sections
3 California chiles, de-stemmed and deseeded and torn into 1-inch sections
2 Árbol chiles, destemmed and deseeded and cut in half

DO NOT TOUCH YOUR FACE OR EYES DURING THIS ENTIRE PROCESS

In a dry, heavy-bottomed, medium sauce pot, stir the chile pieces over medium-high heat for a couple minutes, until they start to really release their scent.

Add 2 cups of chicken stock (or water) and simmer over low-medium heat for 5-8 minutes, until the skins get soft.

Carefully (!) ladle the hot mixture into a sturdy blender (glass top is preferred, although mine is not) and blend on LOW so the hot mixture doesn’t forcefully expand – high school physics at work here – as the blades begin to spin, splattering lava all over you and the kitchen. Scrape the sides down. Blend on medium. Scrape the sides down. Blend on high until a perfectly smooth puree is achieved. It’ll make about 2 cups of chili paste.

I’m going to use a cup in each of the two recipes I’m making, so I poured an equal amount into two storage containers. One went in the fridge, the other into the freezer. If you want smaller amounts, freeze in ice cube trays and pop into a ziplock bag after its frozen solid. Question your need for chili seasoning packets ever again.

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