Smoky, deeply-flavored chili paste is a cinch to make at home with dried chilies of your choice. Recipe makes about 3/4 cup chili paste (enough for 1 batch of Texas-Style Chili)
Heat chilis in a skillet (I use cast iron) over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes per side, until fragrant. Chilies should not char.
Place toasted chilies in a bowl and add enough boiling water to cover. Let stand for 30 minutes, turning chilies halfway through.
Drain chilies and discard water. Cut each chili in half and remove and discard stems and seeds.
Place chilies in a blender or food processor with chipotle pepper, adobo sauce, cumin, paprika, and 1/2 cup water. Blend until a smooth paste forms, scraping the sides as needed. You might need to add another tablespoon or two of water, depending on the chilies you've used.
Transfer chili paste to a bowl and store, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 6 months. (You can also freeze chili paste in ice cube trays, as you would pesto.)
For MILD TO MEDIUM chili paste: I use a combination of dried Anaheim chilies and Ancho. If you want a very mild spice level, omit the chipotle pepper from the recipe.
For SPICY chili paste: Substitute 2-3 Arbols in your dried chili mix.
Wear gloves and wash your hands after handling chilies. Avoid touching your eyes. Spicy chilies can cause eye irritation and sometimes coughing, depending on how high they fall on the Scoville scale. If you're using hot chilies and/or are sensitive, consider wearing goggles when working with them.
Read more about chili handling safety in the blog post above.