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Ground chile pepper (Recipe: white chili) {gluten-free}


Were you among the 30,000 people in Hatch, New Mexico, at noon on September 1, when the Chile Queen and her Red and Green Chile Princesses were crowned at the kick-off of the world's most famous chile festival?

Did you watch the chile-eating contests and inhale the aroma of fresh green chiles being roasted in the field? Did you purchase some ristras, taste the burritos and sopapillas, ogle the best-of-show chile pods?

Me neither.

Thanks to friends who travel frequently to Taos, however, I am well supplied with several varieties of New Mexico dried ground chile pepper, and my pantry would be naked without it. (Left to right in the photo above: red and green flakes, ground red, ancho.)

Big Jim, Sandia, Anaheim and Espanola are the most popular New Mexico chile varieties; all rank as fairly mild on the Scoville scale, at 500-2,500 Scoville units. (A bell pepper is 0 Scoville units, a habanero 300,000 or more.) In my pantry, I also have hot ground chile from Vietnam, and wickedly hot cayenne, from California, plus mild and hot variations of what we call pizza peppah here in Rhode Island.

Chili powder (with an "i") and ground chile pepper (with an "e") are two different products. With an "e", it's pure pepper. With an "i", it's a blend, often containing one or more varieties of ground chile pepper, plus cumin, garlic and Mexican oregano. And, even more confusing, many recipes for chili call for some type of chile.

According to New Mexico State University's Chile Pepper Institute, where in addition to scholarly research and practical advice, you can also find an online seed catalog, one teaspoon of dried red chile powder provides an adult's daily requirement of Vitamin A, and one fresh green chile pod has as much Vitamin C as six oranges.

In fact, chiles are so popular that, for more than 20 years, they've even had their own magazine. Now, how many foods can make that claim?

White chili

Adapted from Weekend! A Menu Cookbook for Relaxed Entertaining, by Edith Stovel and Pamela Wakefield, this is a great recipe for those who don’t eat beef but still want some meat in their chili. Serves 8.


3 19-oz cans cannellini beans, drained, rinsed and drained again
14 oz homemade or low-sodium canned chicken stock (I use Swanson 99%)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb ground turkey breast or ground chicken breast
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 cups chopped onion
1 4-oz can chopped green chiles
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried chile powder or ancho chile powder, or more to taste
1/3 tsp cinnamon
Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce, to taste
1/2 cup each: thinly sliced green onions, grated cheddar cheese, minced red onion (for garnish)


In a large heavy pot, combine beans with the chicken stock and heat over low heat while you prepare the remaining components of the chili. In another frying pan, heat the olive oil. Add the ground turkey and sauté, stirring frequently, until the turkey is lightly browned.  Add the onions and garlic, and continue cooking until the onions are soft. Add chiles, cumin, oregano, chile powder and cinnamon, and stir to combine. Stir the turkey mixture into the beans, and add hot pepper sauce to taste. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat (don’t allow the chili to boil) for 10-15 minutes. Garnish as desired and serve hot.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Chicken basquaise with Espelette piperade
Turkey-green chile chili
Pasta puttanesca
Doro wat
Burmese dry chicken curry

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


I wasn't at the chile festival either, but I sure hope to do that someday. Lucky you to get that wonderful ground chile pepper. The picture is beautiful!

Lydia, you never cease to amaze me with the information you dig up! The difference between "i" and "e" is fascinating - although I'm not sure I will start eating fresh green chile pods to get my full day's supply of Vitamin C!

Yes! This is a beautiful photo of the trio of chiles. I can't help but wonder if the set up made you sneeze!

Could you please tell what chalk font did you use for your heading page. I am looking for a chalk font that looks like that.

This sounds like a fun festival. I'd love to be there and be a part of it.

White chile? Never heard of it before. I like the sound of it, though.


P.S. You DO have the perfect pantry, with all this fun stuff stocked in it. ;-)


How about if you, me, Sher, and Paz all go to the Chile festival together someday! (And if anyone else wants to join us, we will let them come too!)

My parents actually used to live in NM, but I never made it at chile roasting time. I love chile powder and could never get too much of it!

I've seen chilli festivals on TV, with pepole wolfing down hot chillies! I'm keeping my distance, and will stick to the ones in your lovely picture...

I was not in Hatch this year; but I have been there in September, when the fragance of roasting chiles fills that clear turquoise sky and ristras hang from the doorways. In the little store which is right on the dusty road, I bought Recipes from Hatch: Chile Capital of the World cookbook. I'll be glad to share it with you, Lydia. Here is a recipe from it:
Frijole with Chorizo
1 lb dry pinto beans
8 cups water
2 large onions
6 chorizo sausage, cut into 1 inch pieces (veg or chix sausage will be okay...although not great!)
1 clove garlic
1 16 oz can tomatoes
6 TBSP chile powder
1 TSP salt (recipe calls for 1 TBS..I found that waaaay too salty)
1 tsp cumino
1 tsp. oregano
2 cups chopped green chile
Soak beans overnight in water. In large pan, cook beans for 4 hours, add tomatoes, onion, garlic, spices, and sausage. Cook for two hours.

I do keep dried chili pepper in my pantry :D
An easy dash if I want to spice up my dishes.
Recently, I even added whole dried chili in my pasta dish.

Interesting post, Lydia. I am a chili addict. It's an addiction that you can't hide because people can see how much chili flakes/chili slices I put on my plate at Thai restaurants, etc. And if you come to my pantry, you can see chilies in all forms. Oh, how I wish we had such a festival in Sydney. A-hem, so far I have been undefeated in the chili-eating domain. :-)

Sher, I agree, I am lucky -- my friends' kids are in Taos, and I can get regular delivery of very fresh peppers. A real luxury.

TW, no, I'm not going to get my Vitamin C from fresh peppers either, but I admit I do love ferreting out these little facts about my pantry foods.

Laura, I didn't get that close to them!

Jazzy, the chalk writing isn't a font; it's actual handwriting by my talented friend Shawn Kenney, who designed the banner for me.

Paz, my pantry isn't perfect...yet. But I keep adding and subtracting ingredients, so maybe, one day....

Kalyn, you're on! What a great idea!

Kelly-Jane, I don't think I could eat straight chile peppers, but I'd love to be out there in the field, inhaling the aroma of roasting chiles.

Marcia, fabulous recipe -- thank you so much for sharing it with us. I can see where the chorizo is necessary for smoke and spiciness; I wonder if the chicken chorizo I get at the local Portuguese market would work? This is just my kind of thing -- beans and sausage and chile.

Tigerfish, you are brave -- those whole dried chile peppers can be so spicy. The smaller they are, the hotter they are!

Nora, I'm building up my addiction to chile, too. I'm amazed at how much I use now, when just a few years ago I had no tolerance for it at all. Yes, it's an addiction, but a delightful one.

What great information on chili/chile. I just use them interchangeably sometimes but now I know better. And great that it has a lot of vitamins!

No I didn't go to the festival, nor was I anywhere near it! But DANG! I wish I was. I love chili.

That is such a gorgeous picture, Lydia! Now this again is something I cannot live without.

My sister and I were there! I ate a straight-up roasted green chili. It was so cool to watch them roast them over an open flame. I also have a stock-pile of chili powder from Flavorbank, I highly recommend it.

Veron, there are so many spellings for the same thing, but chile with an "e" is only used to describe the pepper, not the concoction. Vitamins, yes -- but with heat!

Steamy, want to come with Kalyn et al. next year?

Nupur, me too, I'm becoming a chile addict!

Kelly, I just found your post about visiting the festival. Looks like so much fun! Readers, check it out:

So a food blogger trek to Hatch is in the works for next year? Sign me up! We used to have a local source here in NYC for Hatch chiles, but my beloved Kitchen Market closed in June so this year I am without. While not quite as big an event as they are in their native NM, Hatch chiles are still a big deal in Texas, and when I was there last week the markets were well stocked and the restaurants had their chile roasters prominently displayed out front. You can't make a decent green chili without them.

That´s interesting. never heard of white chili before. I´m a big chili wimp, though, so mine would not merit the name, I´m afraid.

Lisa, it most definitely seems like we are headed to Hatch next September. If you find another great source of Hatch chiles in NYC, please let us know. Wouldn't it be nice to convince some restaurant (anyone reading this?) to start smoking their own out on the sidewalks of New York.

Lobster, "white" chili usually refers to chili made with turkey and white beans, instead of the traditional chili with beef. It often has green chile peppers in it -- and green chiles are very, very mild.

I bring chili powder back from the U.S. Not much available here in France but on our twice-yearly trips to Andorra we can get Pimenton, Cayenne, and the like. And green T
The colors of your chile powders/flakes are gorgeous!

Can you imagine how boring the world would be without chiles? it would be like living in a black & while movie. Thank god for technicolor!

Katie, you have such wonderful peppers available in France -- not our New Mexico hot stuff, I guess, but of course you have piment d'espelette and pimenton. Yum.

Ann, I don't even want to contemplate a world without chiles. It would be bleak.


Been a lurker for a few months, thought I'd stop by and say hello. Hello! It's funny, a handful of the food blogs I follow, then my own, have recently (within the week) done chile or chili posts. Neat, eh?

In my hillbilly circle, the chile always meant the powder (blend or no) or whole rig. Chili, was the stew. This is confirmed by Texans and N. Mexicans, but I don't think they did a college degreed study on the vernacular of said terms.

Here's my version of a Californian "Bowl of Red".


Personally, I find chile peppers as interesting as pork. There's so many ways to make so many things with these ingredients and they most always come out wonderfully yummy.

xo, Biggles

I'm a huge fan of what you call "pizza peppah!" and I call it pizza peppers too! I douse my pizza in them at restaurants when it's available. Mmmm....

(Sorry I misplaced this comment originally - not sure what happened)

Dr. Biggles, nice to see you back here! Maybe it's the Hatch Chile Festival that's brought out all of the chile heads.... thanks for the link to your recipe, too. I saw it on your blog and my mouth started to water. Oh boy, so good.

Hillary, I think "pizza pepper" is a Northeast thing. We all know what we're talking about, but elsewhere people must think we're crazy!

Oh, and I would suggest you use the hot sauce as a finishing sauce. I've been cooking this stuff for years, plus making bbq sauce. The subtle flavors of any hot sauce will most likely be lost. And rarely will the heat be transferred.


I love the bowls your spices are in. I sometimes try to turn bowls on a lathe and so I have a collection of salt bowls, I should use them for chillies too.

If I didn't live so far I'd go to the chili festival with you. Sounds fun.

I've read about the Hatch chile festival and liken it to the Holy Grail, if you guys get there, I expect some great photos and at least one good story of pain and suffering, lol! I would have been very jealous of your all your chile powders, only the wonderful Tanna sent me some, I used some to make chipotle mayonnaise which worked out quite well.

Biggles, that's great advice. Thanks.

Brilynn, I always thought I'd like to turn my own bowls... so I convinced the magazine I write for to send me to a one-day woodturning class. I made one bowl, which I use every day to make small salads -- and it's a reminder that I'm probably never going to get near a lathe again! The story's on my web site; it was a pretty funny experience. I realized I'm a much better conceptualizer than woodturner!

Barbara and Neil, maybe we need to organize a charter flight from Australia/NZ to Hatch NM!

Neil, I'm glad you're experiencing the joys of our southwestern chiles. They are a great American food product.

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