Monday, December 14, 2015

Make It Yourself: Chipotle Chilies in Adobo Sauce

A while back I conducted a little non-scientific survey among my friends, and asked "what is a food trend you would like to see disappear?" Some were really good answers, like kale chips- let's face it, kale is great and all, but munching on a dried up leaf is not my idea of a good snack. Someone else felt that the bacon craze was getting a little out of hand, and another wanted cupcakes to take a hike.

Dried chipotle peppers getting ready for a long slow simmer
The most surprising response was chipotle peppers. Of course, here at our house we love hot and spicy foods, so any kind of chili pepper is my friend. I can't imagine wanting a pepper to go away. Chipotle peppers are one of those foods that a lot of recipes ask for, but I never seem to have in the pantry. It's only natural that I'd want to make it myself.

After a few hours of cooking they are plump, soft and
spicy/smoky delicious
Chipotle peppers are smoked jalapeno peppers. You can buy these at just about any larger grocery store or Hispanic foods market but if you are an experienced pitmaster you can easily smoke fresh jalapenos and dry them. I got mine at Penzey's and they are really inexpensive. 

Chioptle peppers are dried smoked jalapenos
The adobo sauce is easy- basically a spiced tomato sauce- you simmer the dried jalapenos in the sauce until they are softened and the sauce thickens and takes on that sweet smoky pepper flavor. These are easy to process in the small 4 ounce canning jars for shelf stable storage, or pop in the freezer if you don't want to process in a canner. This recipe is super simple and doesn't require a whole lot of attention if you use a slow cooker to reduce the sauce.

The rich, thick adobo sauce packs a TON of flavor
Let's heat things up in here!

Homemade Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce

1 1/2 ounces dried chipotle peppers
4 cups tomato puree
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon onion powder or 1/2 cup minced onion
2 teaspoons garlic powder or 4-6 garlic cloves, minced 
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
dash ground cloves

Combine everything in a slow cooker and cook on high until thick, leaving the lid ajar so the sauce can evaporate and thicken. This can take 30 minutes to two hours. 

Loads of flavor getting ready to happen
Prepare a pressure canner and 4 ounce canning jars, with lids.

The peppers plump up and soften during cooking
Ladle the peppers and sauce into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Process the jars for 35 minutes at the correct weight for your altitude, for me it's 15 lbs. Cool completely before testing the seals.

These are so handy for all kinds of recipes and are better than the store bought chipotles in metal cans. If you open a jar and don't use the entire contents, just pop the lid back on and store in the freezer until you need it again. I had more than enough of the Adobo sauce so I canned the extra in 3 half pint jars for future experiments.

The finished jars
When I was making this recipe the aroma was incredible. The mixture of those warm spices, the cloves, allspice and cinnamon, are just heavenly together and the spicy hint of chipotle just takes it to a whole other level. I can't wait to open the first jar after they have mellowed for a couple months. The amount of chipotles compared to the amount of liquid looked a little off at first, but after cooking the peppers absorbed some of the liquid and plumped up. 

I removed as much of the stem from the peppers as I could. It wasn't easy to get them off but I did the best I could. You can leave them on if you like but you will want to remove them when you use the peppers later.

BIG thanks to my good friend Elaine, owner of FireFood, for her advice, discussion and expertise in working with hot peppers and canned foods. She spent considerable time talking with me about any issues that might affect safety, pH, pressure versus water bath, and so on.

NOTE: This recipe has not been tested by the NCHFP. If you are not comfortable canning untested recipes, please do not use this one.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 55: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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