Monday, June 2, 2008

Delicious: Chipotle Peppers

Chipotle peppers are the easiest way to add Mexican flavor to anything.

They're smoked jalepeno peppers, and they're sold in cans packed in adobo sauce -- a dark red sauce made from vinegar, oil, garlic and onions. I assume it's the vinegar, but chipotle peppers last for weeks if not months in my fridge. I pour the entire can into a plastic tub and pull that out whenever I need one pepper or even just a teaspoon of the adobo sauce.

They're essential for cooking many Mexican foods. See my post about Rick Bayless' book Mexican Everyday. They're also delicious mixed into your favorite foods like omelets, chili, or salsas. Make BBQ sauce. Make chipotle mayonnaise. Or better yet, go buy some avocados, goat cheese and salted pistachios for Mrs. HowChow's Philadelphia Guacamole.

Inspired by guacamole at El Vez in Philadelphia, Mrs. HowChow has developed a guacamole with bite, heat and crunch. It took months of experimenting, so we don't know how far her changes have taken the guacamole, but the chipotles and their adobo sauce provide the basic flavor. There are enough nuts, but no so many that you get one every bite. So the crunch is a surprise.

"Philadelphia" Guacamole
2 avocados, flesh removed and put in a bowl
1/3 c. soft, white goat cheese
scant (just less than) 1/4 c. chipotle peppers, chopped
scant (just less than) 1/3 c. salted pistachios (out of the shell)

Mix all these ingredients together. You'll see little flecks of red from the peppers and white from the cheese. Taste. Add adobo sauce in 1 tsp. increments and stir. Taste each time to reach the heat that you want. A little sauce is essential because it spreads more flavor than the peppers on their own. But heat increases with each spoonful, so go slow.

You can buy Chipotle peppers at Lily's Mexican Market in Columbia, Tere's Latin Market in Ellicott City, or at the H-Mart in Catonsville. You can also find them in some supermarkets.

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