Chunks or logs of fragrant hardwood, preferably a combination of oak and mesquite
1 1/4 pounds red-ripe jalapeno chiles with stems
1/2 cup dried red New Mexico chile puree or commercial chile paste, such as Santa Cruz
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon packed dark brown sugar
1 clove fresh garlic, peeled and crushed
1/4 teaspoon salt
Prepare a smoker according to the manufacturer's directions,
using the wood chunks and achieving a steady temperature of 275
to 300 degrees F.
Place the chiles directly on the smoker rack (or use a shallow disposable
foil pan) at the cooler end of the smoking chamber or on the upper
rack if your smoker has one.
Lower the cover and smoke the chiles for 2 1/2 hours, or until they
are soft, brown, and slightly shriveled.
Remove the chipotles from the smoker. In a medium nonreactive saucepan,
combine them with the chile puree, water, tomato paste, vinegar,
brown sugar, garlic, and salt. Set over medium heat and bring to
a simmer. Cook, stirring once or twice, until the sauce is very
thick, about 15 minutes.
Cool to room temperature.
Transfer the chipotles to a covered storage container and refrigerate
for at least 24 hours before using. They can be refrigerated for
up to 2 weeks or frozen for up to 2 months.
Unsauced Dried Chipotles: After removing the chiles from the smoker, place them on a rack
and leave them, loosely covered, at room temperature, until crisp,
light, and dry, 1 to 2 weeks, depending on the humidity. Store airtight
at room temperature.
Green jalapenos can be used, but red ones are more beautiful
and have a deeper, sweeter flavor. Grow your own, or in the store,
select chiles that have begin to turn red; they will eventually
ripen. (Those picked without any red at all in their peels will
always remain green.)
It might help you to know that I just weighed 1 1/4 pounds of jalapenos,
and it took 30 peppers. But since my jalapenos were on the small
side, I'd think that 20-25 dried chipotles would be about the