Chipotle! (Smoked Chile Peppers), that fantastic flavor!

lil_rhody(z6b RI coast)February 19, 2006

Those who are interested in both heat and flavor should try smoking chiles. This can add a new element to your culinary arsenal for use in rubs, hot sauces, moles and other sauces.

Prior to the introduction of dehydrators, it was difficult to thoughouly dry thick fleshed chiles. Sun or air drying generally lead to rotting peppers before they would completely dry.

Like meats that are smoke cured for preservation, smoking chiles was a means developed by the Aztecs as a way to dry and preserve thick fleshed peppers.

If you decide to smoke peppers, use a clean grill or smoker. Any meat particles can give your peppers off flavors. It is best to use a new grill / smoker that will be dedicated to smoking chiles.

The key is to maintain a low heat to dry the peppers slowly for maximum flavor and dehydration.

Different types of hard woods can impart subtle or strong flavors into chiles.

I've made chipotles the last 2 years, it adds another use for the peppers I grow and something else to look forward to.

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Interesting, can you put your recepies here on how to smoke a good chile.- also what type of chiles you use. if you considering trading seeds contact me please.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2006 at 4:35PM
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lil_rhody(z6b RI coast)

The classic chipotle pepper is the jalapeño. Most thick fleshed peppers can be used, it's all personal preference. Fleshier chiles tend to retain more of the smoke flavor than thin walled varieties, but either can be used.
Thin walled peppers may become dry and brittle, even burnt if you're not careful.

Some people use a two step method, smoking for a given time then finishing them off in a dehydrator. This method is prefered when making chipotle powder for rubs and combining w/ other seasonings.

Typically hardwoods and fruit tree woods are used. Oak, pecan, hickory, apple and mesquite are some examples. Some people also throw fresh herbs on the wood coals for added flavor. There are also compressed wood pellets available that work great. The key is to smoke for a long period of time using a low heat, low as possible. Wood should be soaked in water prior to burning to render more smoke at a lower temperaure.

The best results are achieved by low smoking temperatures, the amount and type of smoke and the length of time.

Remember, you are not trying to cook or burn the peppers, the process should be low, slow and smokey.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2006 at 7:13PM
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ncage(z5 IL)

LiLRhody: I have tried this before and i just don't seem to come out as good as chipolte i buy in the store. Exactly how long do you smoke your peppers before you throw them in the deyhdrator? What do you smoke them in? What temperatures are you smoking at? How smokey do you think yours taste compared to store bought? I wish i had a good recipe for chipolte in adobo sauce too.

I smoke mine in a weber bullet smoker i have. I just put a cast iron pan on top of portable burner that i put in the smoker with hickory chips in it. The temperature is usually about 120ish if i remember correctly. I replace the chips as soon as they turn black. I smoke them until they are all the way dried. Mine have turned out pretty bitter tasting.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2006 at 2:36PM
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The Mexicans, who invented chipotle, smoke the chiles at or below 100-105F (you can hold your hand comfortably in the smoke).

The fire is lit in a pit connected to a pit 5-10' away with a piece of stovepipe on which water can be poured to cool the smoke if necessary. On the smoking pit there is a large grate with chiles arrayed on it. The Mexicans use mesquite because it is readily available.

It takes longer than one whole day. The campesino I talked to said that it usually takes 2-4 days, but I didn't stay to watch. He was smoking both xalapas and serranos.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2006 at 5:12PM
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ncage(z5 IL)

Willard thank you for comment but unfortuantly i don't think thats going to be an option for most people at home :). Im looking for solutions that an average joe could do :).


    Bookmark   February 27, 2006 at 1:30PM
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john47_johnf(Maine z4/5)


Check your library for DeWitt's "The Pepper Garden". He discusses them and tells how to make them in a backyard Webber-type barbeque with a lid.


    Bookmark   February 27, 2006 at 2:35PM
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cmpman1974(Zone 6 MI)

I smoked some ripe jalapenos in a box stand-up smoker unit using hickory wood for about 8-10 hours. I was very happy with the end result. Analyzing powder taste for authenticity and perfection is so difficult unless you have many lined up. I'm always seeking a benchmark, but not sure what it would be.

There is a person on another forum who seems to infuse smokiness into a powder to perfection from what I hear.


    Bookmark   February 27, 2006 at 4:50PM
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lil_rhody(z6b RI coast)

I use a box smoker as well.
Great Outdoors Grill Co. 34" Smoky Mountain Gas Smoker I bought at Wally World.

Depending on the thickness of the pods, I smoke them for approx. +/- 12 hrs.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2006 at 8:57PM
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cmpman1974(Zone 6 MI)

Nice Paul. I have the same smoker, but the charcoal one. I wish I would have gotten the gas one. By the way, hot much propane do you use in a 12 hour session? That was my concern at $16 a tank.


    Bookmark   February 27, 2006 at 9:22PM
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ncage(z5 IL)

Paul: how low are you able to keep temps with that thing?

    Bookmark   February 27, 2006 at 10:11PM
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jimcanada(z3a sw Sk. Ca.)

I want to try smoking some peppers this year. I use willow to smoke sausage, fish, etc. and it gives it a nice red color with a nice smokey taste. Anyone tried willow for smoking peppers?

    Bookmark   February 28, 2006 at 12:47AM
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lil_rhody(z6b RI coast)

Chris, because I smoke so infrequently, I alternate the tank between the smoker and my grill.
With 2 side vents and one top vent I keep it on the lowest setting which offers temps. in the 110° - 115°F range.
Last time I filled the tank it cost $11.59. I would venture to say that it probably uses as little as ¼ or as much as 1/3 of a tank in 12 hours. I never monitored it.

Paul B.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2006 at 8:20PM
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