Making Your Own Powdered Anchos

CHILI POWDER. If you've opened up enough Shack sandwiches, as I have, then you remember that the sauce was dark, almost black. As we have stated on the main page, this indicates that something other than grocery store chili powder was used. I was intrigued when I came across an article that specified C&F Coffee Company Special Blend chili powder, as this might have been the source for the spice. Further along, I discovered Smitty's in Conway, and their Original Shack Sauce seemed to fulfill all the requirements that I remember of the real thing.

So I set about to reproduce Smitty's sauce. Of course, if C&F Coffee Company really did produce the spice mixture used by The Shack, and if it still exists, and if you have access to C&F Coffee Company's Special Blend chili powder, then you can skip this page and go on to something else. If, however, you can't get C&F's spices, read on.

What we're after here is a spice mixture that is darker and "mustier" in taste than the Palarm Creek sauce. The base for virtually all southwestern-style chili powders is the dried New Mexico, or Anaheim, chili. Dried Anaheims are deep red. To achieve a darker powder you have to add a different chili, and since there isn't much heat, that must mean ancho (dried poblano). "Mustier" is a subjective term here, but in comparison to Anaheims that is how I would describe anchos. You can get anchos at your Wal-mart superstore. Below is a comparison of the two.

New Mexico on the left, ancho on the right

Halve the anchos and remove the stem and all the seeds and any of the light-colored veins as shown below. Seeds and veins produce pure heat and contribute nothing to the taste.

Ancho split and seeded. Also remove the veins before baking.

Bake them for five minutes in a 300 degree F oven, then grind them in a spice grinder. You don't have to grind your own anaheims, just use a good chili powder. I use Gebhardt's, and I would skip Mexene.

Commercial Gebhardt's on the left, ground anchos on the right.

Now you have the spices and you are ready to make the sauce.