The Ardent Epicure

An Ode to the Pleasures of Food

10:54 PM

Food of the Day - Chipotle

Posted by Truffle Shuffle

Chipotle Pepper
The chipotle is one of the most amazing chiles available today.  In recent times, they have grown in popularity, as more people all over the world come to realize the flavor possibilities they can achieve by using this delicious ingredient in their food.
What Exactly Is It?
A chipotle is just a smoked, dried jalapeño.  While there are many types of dried chiles available on the market, the chipotle is unique in the rich, smoky flavor it obtains from being smoked prior to drying.  Like the jalapeño, it has a medium-high heat factor and thus should be used carefully.  Chipotles can vary from a reddish-brown, almost black color, to a dull, dusty greyish-brown. 
Chipotle Pepper
 How Do I Use Them?
While there are a great many chipotle-based products on the market today, I highly recommend making use of the dried chiles themselves.  However, if you bite into one of these suckers, you will be in for a fairly unpleasant experience.  As they come packaged, they are dried, and thus hard and chewy, and not very tasty.  
The first thing to consider is just how much heat you want.  Popular legend holds that the seeds in a chile contain most of the "spicy" quality you taste when eating something like a jalapeño.  While this is true to some degree, the "veins" in the chile hold the most heat.  If you use a whole chile, the spice will be much greater than if you remove the seeds and veins from the chile.
Remove the Stem
Start by removing the stem: using a sharp knife, carefully cut off the stem-end of the chile, and pull out the stem.  Then, slice the chile down the side, opening it.  You can then scoop out the seeds, and cut out any veins you see.  Once nothing but the "flesh" is left, you are ready to use them.
Remove the Seeds/Veins
But if you toss a dried chipotle into your food, again, I think you may be back on here yelling at me, so let me give you another tip.  Chipotles are very hard, and need to be softened before use.  If you are using the dried variety that usually comes in a bag, you will need to do this yourself.  Take about a quart of water per ten or so chiles, or enough to make sure they are covered.  Boil the chiles fifteen or twenty minutes, or until they are nice and soft.  You can then chop them, and use them in any way you like.
Chipotle Goodness
Try buying chipotle products, such as chipotle cheeses, sauces, or other flavored foods.  Also, chipotle chili powder can add a great flavor to many dishes where you would normally make use of regular chili powder.  You can use the chiles you soften yourself for salsas, enchilada sauce, meat dishes, in tacos, or just about any place where you desire a little heaty and wonderful, smoky chile flavor!

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