CHINTEXTLE (Smoked chili paste)

This a relatively quick recipe for a Oaxacan smoked chile paste that can be used as a semi-dry rub for roasting or grilling meats, poultry, or fish. Any left-over paste can be stored in the freezer for up to six months.


  • 1 small-to-medium garlic bulb
  • 6 smoked dried chilies, e.g., guajillos or pasillas
  • ¼ pound dried shrimp
  • 6 avocado leaves
  • ½ cup sweet fruit vinegar (apple cider or pineapple)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Sea salt to taste

Preparing ingredients

  1. Toast the un-peeled garlic cloves on a comal (cast iron skillet is fine) over medium heat, turning frequently, until cloves are blackened slightly and the clove is soft, which will take 10-15 minutes depending on the size of the clove. Let the cloves cool, then peel.
  2. Preheat broiler, put chiles on a flat surface (e.g., small cookie sheet), place on top rack and broil for about 5 minutes, turning frequently. Remove and set aside.
  3. Move broiler rack down one level, put dried shrimp on the flat sheet, and broil for no more than 2 minutes, turning frequently. Remove and set aside.
  4. Toast avocado leaves on the comal over low heat for 2-3 minutes, turning once or twice—the leaves will get somewhat shiny.

Making the paste

  1. Put the garlic, chiles, shrimp, and avocado leaves into a food processor or blender and process until thoroughly combined.
  2. With the processor running, add the vinegar and enough of the oil to make a spreadable paste.
  3. Season with salt to taste.

The paste can be varied by adding pepitas (dry-roasted pumpkin seeds) or nuts (almonds or pecans); the paste can be extended by adding cooked black beans. Add any additional ingredients to the food processor (blender) before adding the vinegar and oil.

One way to use chintextle is to lightly coat a roasting pan or casserole with olive oil, add a layer of vertically sliced onions and put chicken thighs on top. Then thoroughly coat the chicken with the chintextle, cover and roast until chicken is just tender when pierced with a sharp knife or skewer. Remove cover and continue roasting until chintextle coating has just started to dry out.

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