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I have the 75th anniversary edition of Joy of Cooking. I've now come across two recipes that call for "ground red pepper" (enchiladas and a dry rub). I've never heard of ground red pepper before and cannot find it at the store.

Is it ground red bell pepper or something hot like cayenne? What should I use as a substitute?

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This sort of problem is probably characteristic of American books like Joy of Cooking; for example, a Mexican cookbook would probably be more specific in an enchilada recipe. –  Jefromi Jun 18 '12 at 19:43

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The term "ground red pepper" is ambiguous in English. Things sold under that name in the US have a wide range of heats, and likely are made from multiple varieties of peppers, though I'd say they're more commonly hot things like cayenne, or other varieties with somewhat less heat.

That said, don't worry about it too much in these cases. Anything from mild paprika to cayenne would likely fit within what the authors meant, and you're not going to harm a recipe by increasing or decreasing the heat, or by using a chile powder with a slightly different flavor. Just use something (or a blend) that provides the heat level you want, and you'll be fine.

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I had a red pepper spice by Astor out of Jacksonville, Florida. They are out of business, now, to my regret. Their pepper was not hot but has a very nice flavor and smell. I would use this spice without having to use salt or any other spice. It would change the smell of meat to delicious even as you sprinkled it on. I have not been able to find anything like it. It was not cayenne nor chili. Just labeled "ground red pepper". I saw on internet the same pepper by Astor "the Tin" for sale, it's very old so I probably will not bother with it. In other words, there was once a ground red pepper spice, not cayenne nor chili.

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It's just crushed cayenne pepper!

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Usually crushed means flakes, and if this is calling for ground, I would think they want a powder texture. –  sourd'oh Oct 10 '13 at 18:46

In most instances I've seen, in American cookbooks, "red pepper" refers to cayenne pepper or chili powder (not the spice mix designed for making chili con carne, but dried, ground chilis). It is usually spicy rather than being red bell pepper.

Edit to add: I'm talking about this type of product:

McCormic Ground red pepper McCormic Ground red pepper

another container Source

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In my experience, it is seldom spicy. In Germany, there are actually grades of it (the name is btw Paprikapulver, not red pepper) - normal red pepper is "sweet" just like bell pepper, then there is "rose-sharp" which is a mixture of sweet red pepper and cayenne, and then there is "hot", which has lots more cayenne. Pure cayenne is considered the highest level of hotness, and isn't called Paprikapulver any more. –  rumtscho Jun 18 '12 at 15:37
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Chili powder being the dried, ground chilis not the spice mix which includes onion, cumin, etc. –  Sobachatina Jun 18 '12 at 15:40
    
@rumtscho And you're certain that Joy of Cooking is referring to Paprikapulver? Given that it's an American cookbook, I would assume that ingredient would be referred to as "Paprika" germanfood.about.com/od/herbsandspicesglossary/g/… –  Yamikuronue Jun 18 '12 at 15:50
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@rumtscho The 75th anniversary edition was published in 2006; since there was no German origin specified, I have serious doubts that it's talking about a German ingredient as opposed to what I can pick up at the grocery store: google.com/products/… or spiceplace.com/mccormick-ground-red-pepper.php –  Yamikuronue Jun 18 '12 at 16:01
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Yamikoronue is correct. As someone who first learned to cook in the 70's, "Red Pepper" is a generic American term for hot ground capsicum peppers, usually cayenne, but sometimes other chiles such as arbol or hot paprika. –  FuzzyChef Jun 19 '12 at 3:16

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