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Chipotles En Adobo


4 ounces chipotle chiles; (moras), about 60
3 ancho chiles; remove seeds, veins
1 1/2 cups water
4 cloves garlic; roughly chopped
2 sprigs fresh marjoram; OR
1/8 teaspoon dried marjoram
2 sprigs fresh thyme; OR
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1 pinch cumin seeds; crushed
1 bay leaf; torn to small pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup mild vinegar (pineapple in Mexico)
OR half rice and half wine vinegar
3/4 cup strong vinegar
2 ounces dark brown sugar - firmly packed; about 1/3 cup
1 tablespoon 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 Michoacan. 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 today. 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 sharp fork or skewer, put them into the pressure cooker with water to cover, and cook at low pressure for about 15 munutes - they should be soft but not mushy. (If you are not using a pressure cooker, cook over fairly low heat, tightly covered, for 30 to 40 minutes.) Drain the chiles, remove the stems, and wipe off any stray seeds clinging to the outside. Set aside. Meanwhile, cover the ancho chiles with hot water and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain and transfer to a blender. Add 1 cup of the water, the garlic, herbs, seeds, and bay leaf plus 4 of the cooked chipotles and blend until almost smooth. Heat the oil in a shallow pan, add the blended ingredients, and fry for about 3 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking. Add the vindgars, the rest of the water, the sugar, and the salt and cook for 5 minutes more. Then add the rest of the cooked chiles and cook over low heat, scraping the bottom of the pan from time to time to prevent sticking, until the sauce has reduced and thickened - about 15 minutes. Store in the refrigerator or sterilize and store in a cool place. Makes about 3 cups. NOTE: If you prefer a less pungent version of this recipe, cook the chiles first for about 5 minutes. Drain, slit them open, and remove the seeds and what remains of the veins. Discard the water and start at the beginning of the recipe, reducing the cooking time by about 5 minutes. If you wish to have a lighter sauce, add another 6 ounces of tomatoes to the adobo. Compliments of Garry's Home Cookin' Garry Howard - Cambridge, MA Submitted to the BBQ Mailing List by "Garry Howard" on Oct 29, 1998. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Yield: 1 serving

Preparation Time: 0:00

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