Chipotle (smoked jalapeno) approximately 10 pods

Chipotle (smoked jalapeno) approximately 10 pods

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Approximately 10 pods of our very own homemade chipotle.

Fans of Mexican cuisine will recognize this fabulous ingredient that adds a smoky, savoury and spicy flavour profile to soups, stews, sauces, salsa’s, chutney’s, jam’s, and thousands of Mexican recipes.  It doesn’t even have to be a Mexican recipe to benefit from this unique piquant seasoning.  Jalapenos are noted for having a short shelf life after ripening to red.  They tend to go soft quickly.  Faster than other varieties and probably from the high water content of the chillies.  In Mexico red Jalapenos are not sent to the wholesale market.  Instead, they are hot smoked in barbecues often right there in the field.  This process dehydrates, partially cooks the chilli, and infuses it with a mouth-watering flavour from the wood used to smoke the chillies.   In central Mexico the predominantly available wood for smoking comes from the area’s rich “mesquite” grasslands.  Mesquite is a common name for several plants in the genus Prosopis…over 40 species of small trees native to southwestern United States and Mexico.  This wood is abundant so the traditional distinctive flavour of Chipotle is only truly reproduced when the jalapenos are smoked with wood from these trees.  That said, chipotle is frequently smoked with other woods including Pecan which is is also common to that part of the world.  We always try to use Mesquite when we smoke our chillies but because it is imported it’s not always easy to get and tends to be quite expensive.  Recently I’ve tried several different woods with excellent results.

There are lots of ways to use these pods.  You can grind them into a powder that can be used while cooking or even offered in a shaker alongside salt and pepper on the table.  Re-infuse the chilli in a cup or two of boiling water for 20 minutes and use the chilli and the water in your recipe to bring out those delicious flavours.  Or just through it in whole.  I often add a few whole chipotle into my chilli con carne and leave them in throughout the cooking process to infuse.

 

 

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