The Lust for Mexican Food

“Mexican food is an aphrodisiac which excites the passion for living. The cuisine is like a historical novel which has a gorgeously wanton redhead on its dust jacket. Perhaps within the novel, but most certainly within the presence of Mexican food, history, grandeur, violence, amor and tyranny are offered to the jaded.” –Richard Condon, author of The Manchurian Candidate

I collected the following lusty stuffed ancho recipe in Mexico City while videotaping chef Lula Bertrán, who was gracious enough to cook it for me so we could catch her presenting it on camera.  Then I got to eat it.  Simply wonderful!

Chiles Anchos Encaramelados con Picadillo en Salsa de Aguacate

(Caramelized Ancho Chiles with Picadillo in Avocado Sauce)

Ancho Stuffed with Picadillo

“This is one of my top creations regarding chiles,” says Lula Bertrán. The key to this recipe is the absorption of the orange juice into the skin of the ancho, making the chile soft enough to eat. Make sure you choose anchos that are still pliable; if they are hard as a brick, they will need to be steamed first. The presentation of the chiles is elegant on the light green sauce.

The Chiles

6 medium ancho chiles, stems left on

1 1/2 cups orange juice

1/2 cup grated piloncillo (raw sugar) or substitute molasses

1/2 cup vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

The Picadillo

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 small onion, chopped fine

1/2 pound ground beef

1/2 pound ground pork

1/4 cup raisins

1 medium tomato, chopped

2 teaspoons minced cilantro

5 serrano chiles, seeds and stems removed, minced

1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano

Salt to taste

Avocado Sauce

3 tomatillos, husks removed

2 tablespoons chopped onion

2 serrano chiles, seeds and stems removed, halved

1 clove garlic

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

1 avocado, peeled

1 teaspoon lime juice

1/8 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup half and half

Take each ancho by the stem and using scissors, cut a T-shaped incision that extends across the shoulders of the chile and about two-thirds down the pod. Carefully remove the seeds and membrane. In a saucepan, bring to a boil together the remaining ingredients for the anchos. Add the cleaned anchos and cook at a low boil for 15 minutes, turning once (carefully). Remove from the heat and let cool. Remove the anchos, clean off any remaining seeds, and drain on paper towels.

To make the picadillo, heat the oil and saute the onion and garlic. Add the beef and pork, turn the heat to high, and brown thoroughly, stirring often. Drain nearly all the fat and liquid from the meat mixture. Add the remaining picadillo ingredients and cook over medium heat, uncovered, about 15 to 20 minutes.

To make the sauce, combine all the sauce ingredients in a food processor and puree. Add more half and half if necessary; the sauce should be just thin enough to pour. Strain the sauce and heat in a saucepan but do not boil.

To assemble the dish, carefully stuff the anchos and place each one on a plate. Heat the platesin the oven or in the microwave. Drizzle the sauce over each ancho, add the side dishes, and serve.

Yield: 6 servings

Heat Scale: Medium

For more spiced up recipes, be sure to visit the Burn! Blog, the official blog of the Fiery Foods & Barbecue SuperSite, here.

AboutDave Dewitt

Dave is known in the media as "The Pope of Peppers" because of the 36 books he's written on chile peppers and spicy food around the world. He's also co-producer of the National Fiery Foods & Barbecue Show and editor and publisher of the Fiery Foods & Barbecue SuperSite at His latest book, with chile breeder Dr. Paul Bosland, is The Complete Chile Pepper Book.

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