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  • Serves: 1 Servings

Chipotles En Adobo (My Mexico) Pt 1

  • Recipe Submitted by on

Category: Condiments, Mexican, Sauces

 Ingredients List

  • 4 oz Chipotle chiles (moras);
  • -about 60
  • 3 Ancho chiles; remove seeds &
  • -veins
  • 1 1/2 c Water
  • 4 Cloves garlic; roughly
  • -chopped
  • 2 Sprigs fresh marjoram; OR
  • 1/8 ts Dried marjoram
  • 2 Sprigs fresh thyme; OR
  • 1/8 ts Dried thyme
  • 1 pn Cumin seeds; crushed
  • 1 Bay leaf; torn to small
  • -pieces
  • 2 tb Olive oil
  • 3/4 c Mild vinegar (pineapple in
  • -Mexico); OR half rice and
  • -half wine vinegar
  • 3/4 c Strong vinegar
  • 2 oz Dark brown sugar - firmly
  • -packed; about 1/3 cup
  • 1 tb Sea salt


Preface: From The Journey North - Torreon to Chihuahua

This part of Chihuahua is quite an important chile-growing area as well,
and while the greatest part of the crop is dried, fresh chiles are also
used: "chile de arbol", "guajillo" (confusingly called "cascabel" there),
"jalapeno", and "chilaca" or Anaheim. The "chilaca", or "chile verde", the
long slender light green chile that ranges from mild to hot, is the one
featured most commonly in the cooking of Chihuahua. While it is used fresh,
or dried as "chile de la tierra" or "chile colorado", there is an
interesting variation: it is charred and peeled and then hung up to dry,
whole, without removing seeds and veins. In this state it is known as the
"chile pasado". I warn you, if you do this, 1 pound will reduce to 2
ounces. But it is well worth it because when rehydrated before cooking this
chile has a delicious flavor and enhances the stews or "rellenos" or "chile
con queso" in which it is used. In recent years mushroom cultivation has
been introduced, and now the preferred filling for "chiles rellenos" is a
mixture of mushrooms and cheese.

The crop of jalapenos, while still green, is mostly destined for the
canning industry; once they ripen to red, their value is diminished. Not so
many years ago they were simply thrown away in the latter stage, until Don
Juventino Santos, an enterprising man from Tulancingo, Hidalgo, who was in
the chile business, decided to smoke-dry them for "chipotle mora".

When we were driving out from Camargo the following day to visit the Lago
Toronto, the air was filled with the aroma of smoke and chiles, andd there,
a few yards from the roadside, were huge rectangular cement-block
structures about twelve feet high. At intervals around the base were fire
boxes filled with glowing, smoking logs. Spread out in a thin layer over
the slatted surface were deep red, wrinkled jalapenos - the color darkens
as the smoking process progresses. A man with a shovel was turning them
over from time to time. The farther we drove out of twon, the more small
communities ("ejidos") we saw and visited that were also dedicated to
smoking chiles, and as we drove back that afternoon there were trucks
tipping out their loads of the ripened jalapenos onto the newly vacated
smoking beds.

This smoke-drying process takes several days in which time the weight of
the chiles is reduced to one seventh that of the fresh. The smoked chiles
are so cheap that one wonders how on earth anyone makes any money out of it
at all. We bought sackfuls to support the local economy and distributed
them lavishly to all the cooks we knew along the route back and in

They were extraordinarily picante, owing to the hot, dry summer. A recipe
for them pickled "en escabeche" can be found in "The Art of Mexican
Cooking", and following is a recipe for chipotles "en adobo".

Preserving chiles by smoke-drying dates from pre-columbian times, and the
basic process, albeit with slightly different techniques is still used

Jalapeno chiles - ripened, smoke-dried, and prepared in a pungent sauce for
chipotles "en adobo" - have taken the American gastronomic world by storm.
They are everywhere, the condiment of the decade, mixed with anything and
everything: in sauces, seasoning pastes, soups, salads, breads, etc. (not
yet I sincerely hope, in ice cream). There are two types of "chipotles":
the larger, highly smoked, tobacco-colored one and the smaller
mulberry-colored (as the name implies) "mora" - not to be confused with
"moritas", which are smaller. When I first came to Mexico many years ago,
the larger light-colored chiles were more in evidence, canned in a light
pickle, "escabeche". Today the canning industry seems to favor the "mora",
possibly because its smaller size lends itself to the small cans.

Of the many brands exported from Mexico, my preference is for those packed
in a darker-colored sauce, a real "adobo", rather those in a more acidic,
tomato-based sauce. Of course, it is always interesting to make your own,
without preservatives and fresh, for which I give a recipe here. This
preparation is pungent; a milder version is given in the note that follows
the recipe.

Rinse the chipotle chiles and drain. Pierce each one right through with a

continued in part 2

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