About the Chipotle Chili
Arguably the most well-known chili outside Mexico, having lend its name to a global fast-food chain serving upscale Tex-Mex food, is the Chipotle. However, it deserves its fame for the terrific mix of smoke and heat it brings to dishes when used.
Chipotle is the ripened, dried, and smoked version of the jalapeño and comes in two (main) variations, Morita and Meco. The difference between them lies in how ripe they are allowed to grow and subsequently the smoking process endured. Morita is what most people outside Mexico have encountered, either in its natural raisin-like state or in the ‘Chipotle in Adobo Sauce‘ used widely in the US and elsewhere.
Here we’ll focus on the Meco variant, the true smoky powerhouse of the Mexican Chilies. It is the version that has been allowed to ripen longest and is smoked for the longest too. It comes out reminiscent of a shoe sole – light brown in color and with a texture close to that of a dried piece of tree bark. What it lacks in visual appeal it more than makes up for in its ability to add flavor to dishes.
There is a reason why it has been dubbed the bacon of spices – it can impart a lot of great things when used, but should not be overused. A little goes a long way with these fellas. Their mix of sweetness, smoke and heat makes them a preferred partner for beans, perfectly adding to the bland canvass the legumes often are. When combined with some acidity, the adobo sauce springs to mind here, it is ideal to bite through the fattiness of pork cuts. For this reason, it is a welcome addition to any stew, braise, or even barbeque sauce.