What the Heck Is A Chipotle?
I just recently learned this but a chipotle is a smoke-dried jalapeño pepper. It comes from the word chilpoctli which means smoked chili pepper.
A very popular pepper in Mexico, jalapeños that have been left on their plants at the end of the growing season turn bright red and lose a lot of their moisture. These are then picked to be used for making chipotle.
Placed into a smoker, the ripe jalapeños are smoked for several days until they lose their moisture and get prune like. I read that it takes 10 pounds of jalapeños to make 1 pound of chipotle. The heat of the chipotle has a lot to do with the heat of the jalapeño it comes from.
Sauce or Salsa
I call this recipe a chipotle sauce but it can also be called a chipotle salsa because salsa means sauce in Spanish. I think of salsa in the more traditional American way and that is as a salsa cruda or pico de gallo, you know, the stuff we serve with corn chips while watching sports. See my version of salsa cruda here.
I learned how to make this simple sauce(salsa) from my friend Paula who is from Mexico. She is a wonderful cook and has been teaching me the basics of Mexican cuisine and I'm not talking about anything fancy, just simple, traditional and very tasty.
What's really great about this sauce is you combine heat with a smoky flavor and you can use it with just about anything.
I've tried this on pan fried chicken, fish, tacos, beef, leftover rice and pasta or as a snack with corn chips. It's easy to make at home and a lot cheaper than some of the commercial varieties.
Chipotle Sauce Recipe
- 2 tomatoes
- 2 chipotles from a can - more if you want it hotter
- ½ cup of water
- 1 or 2 sprigs of fresh cilantro - chopped
- Start by roasting the tomatoes. You can roast them in the oven or right on top of the stove. In the photo above you see Paula roasting one over the flame of my gas burner.
- Being careful not to burn yourself, you hold the tomato with a fork over the flame until the skin turns black and then peel it off over the sink.
- Transfer the tomatoes into a blender.
- Add the chipotles to the blender and then the water. Puree this together in the blender and pour into a bowl.
- Stir in the chopped cilantro and you are ready to go. If the sauce is too thin for you liking, you can cook it down some in a pan but realize the sauce will get hotter the more you cook it down, so be careful.