Chipotle chiles

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Preparation Time:
10 Min
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Main Ingredients:

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Cooking Preparation of the Recipe:

1 lb Ripe jalapenos

Americans who love the smoky taste and fiery bite of chipotles have
recently been hit with high prices and a scarcity of product. With
prices for these smoked jalapenos reaching $15 a pound wholesale,
home growers yearn to smoke their own. But the Mexicans have been
fairly secretive about their techniques, and none of the books on
chiles describe home smoking. After a trip to Delicos Mexico, I think
I have solved this mystery -- but the process takes some dedication.
First, let's look at how the Mexicans do it.

They use a large pit with a rck to smoke-dry the jalepenos. The pit
containing the source of heat is underground, with a tunnel leading
to the rack. The pods are placed on top of the rack where drafts of
air pull the smoke up and over the pods. The jalapenos can be whole
pods or pods without seeds. The latter are more expensive and are
called "capones", or castrated ones.

It is possible to make chipotle in the back yard with a meat smoker or
Weber-type barbecue with a lid. The grill should be washed to remove
any meat particles because any odor in the barbecue will give the
chile an undesirable flavor. Ideally, the smoker or barbecue should
be new and dedicated only to smoking chiles.

The quality of homemade chipotle will depend on the maturity and
quality of the pods, the moisture in the pods, the temperature of the
smoke drying the pods, and the amount of time the peppers are exposed
to the smoke and heat. The aroma of wood smoke will flavor the
jalapenos, so carefully choose what is burned. Branches from fruit
trees, or other hardwoods such as hickory, oak, and pecan, work
superbly. Pecan is used extensively in parts of Mexico and in
southern New Mexico to flavor chipotle. Do not be afraid to
experiment with different woods.

The differenc between the fresh weight of the fruits and the finished
product is about ten to one, so it takes ten pounds of fresh
jalapenos to produce approximately one pound of chipotles. A pound of
chipotles goes a long way, as a single pod is usually enough to
flavor a dish.

First, wash all the pods and discard any that have insect damage,
bruises, or are soft. Remove the stems from the pods before placing
the pepperrs in a single layer on the grill rack. Start two small
fires on each side of the grill with charcoal briquets. Keep the
fires small and never directly expose the pods to the fire so they
won't dry unevenly or burn. The intention is to dry the pods slowly
while flavoring them with smoke. Soak the wood in water before
placing it on the coals so the wood wil burn slower and create more
smoke. The barbecue vents should be opened only partially to allow a
small amount of air to enter the barbecue, thus preventing the fires
from burning too fast and creating too much heat.

Check the pods and the fires hourly and move the pods around, always
keeping them away from the fires. It may take up to forty-eight hours
to dry the pods completely. The pods will be hard, light in weight,
and brown in color when dried. If necessary, let the fires burn
through the night. After the pods have dried, remove them from the
grill and let them cool. To preserve their flavor, place them in a
zip-lock bag. It is best to store them in a cool and dry location. If
humidity is kept out of the bags, the chipotles will last for twelve
to twenty-four months.

Buen apetito!

Recipe By : Garry Howard

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