I often buy canned chipotles in small cans. Many people use Chipotle Peppers in Adobo sauce for a variety of recipes, especially during the winter months. My favorite way to use them is just to blend a chipotles or two, with the sauce and some lime, into some mayonnaise. It makes a great aioli and some call it “Mexican Secret Sauce.”
But did you know that chipotles start from the same jalapeños that you find in your garden? Chipotle peppers are smoked or dried jalapeños – mostly red jalapeños, though I used a combination of both.
This recipe will take you step by step on how to preserve your own chipotle peppers in this classic sauce — and yes, without all the salt, preservatives, and high fructose corn syrup that can be found in the grocery store varieties. And of course, we all know that homemade always tastes better.
How To Make Chipotle Peppers
Take a look at the picture of the peppers below. Jalapeños often get white streaks on them, which is an indicator of how much stress the peppers were in while growing. But they’re fine - just normally hotter than the smoother ones.
If you don’t have any red jalapeños this year just head to your local farmer’s market or purchase dried chilies, or you can use your food dehydrator if you don’t have a smoker with you. You will never buy the canned variety again.
Wash them and dry them off. You can remove the stems if you like, but I prefer to leave them on like little handles.
Lay them out on a rack that will fit inside your smoker and set your smoker for 200°F.
You will be smoking for these 3 hours, so plan accordingly. In other words, be sure you have enough wood or pellets!
The most popular use is to make and store them in adobo sauce. Then they can easily be added to soups and sauces to add that unique combination of smoky flavor with peppery heat to almost any dish.
1/2 cup chile powder*
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped (8 oz with juices)
1/4 cup cider vinegar
3 garlic cloves
2 tbsp brown sugar or other sweetener like molasses
1 tsp oregano, Mexican if you have it**
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp allspice
3 tbsp olive oil
2 cups dried chipotle peppers (or 20 freshly smoked, not dried)
For Adobo Sauce
In a food processor or blender add the chile powder and carefully pour in 1 1/2 cups boiling water.
Cover with lid to steep while you get the other ingredients together.
Add the vinegar, chopped tomatoes, garlic, brown sugar, oregano, salt, cumin, cinnamon, pepper and allspice to the food processor or blender and process to a smooth purée, about the consistency of BBQ sauce or catchup. If needed, thin with water.
Heat oil in a skillet or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Carefully pour in the chili vegetable purée and bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook for 20 minutes uncovered.
Makes about 2 1/2 to 3 cups adobo sauce. Use in any Mexican dish you prefer or add chipotle chiles and keep in an airtight container and refrigerate.
If Using Dried Chipotle Peppers
Pre-soak: Bend and slightly crack the dried chipotle peppers (or make punctures all over with a knife). Add to a saucepan and just cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Be sure to add more water if needed so they don’t dry and burn.
Set aside to cool, then add to Adobo Sauce AFTER Step 3. Simmer in Adobo Sauce for another 10 minutes. Let cool completely and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
If Using Freshly Smoked Chipotle Peppers (not dried)
Add freshly smoked peppers directly to the Adobo Sauce AFTER Step 3. Simmer in Adobo Sauce for another 10 minutes. Let cool completely and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about a month.
Carefully spoon adobo sauce or adobo sauce with chipotles into clean, sterilized 4 ounce canning jars. Apply lid per packaged instructions and submerge in boiling water for 30 minutes. Remove jars from water bath and allow to cool.
*You can substitute ancho chile powder for regular chile powder.
**I prefer Mexican oregano and it definitely adds so much authenticity to the recipe. Mexican oregano is a relative of Lemon Verbena and is native to Mexico. If you can’t find it, go to Amazon.
Mediterranean oregano is found on most supermarket shelves and is fine, but as a member of the mint family, it doesn’t have quite the same flavor.
Now go get your spice on, you’ll be happy you did. If you need jalapeños, email me - my garden is loaded...