Chipotle peppers are smoked jalapeño peppers. I love them for their smoky and gentle-but-sweet heat. I use them in adobo sauce when cooking Mexican food and I use them ground up in my Standard BBQ Rub, which I use on ribs, pork and chicken. Chipotle pepper powder is great in flavoring homemade salsa, too. I take a pinch and mix it in at the end.
For as much as I like chipotles, I’ve never made them myself. Recently, I was cleaning out my vegetable garden for the year and found that I had an abundance of jalapeño peppers still growing. I would normally freeze them in freezer bags and pull them out to chop up into cheese dip, that Southern staple. Instead, I decided to try my hand at smoking them, to turn them into chipotle peppers. They come out chocolatey, and sweet, with a nice medium heat and a pleasant burn that lingers on your tongue at the end. (Because of the magic of Mother Nature, your jalapeños may be sweeter or spicier, which will make your chipotles sweeter or spicier. And that’s nice how that works.)
Here’s how I do this.
Rinse your jalapeño peppers and set them in your smoker. You don’t need to oil them, just lay them down with a good bit of room between each of them.
Smoke them over 2-4 chunks of hickory wood for about 15 hours (seriously, 15 hours — I let them go overnight) and then check them to see if they are dry. If they are still soft to the touch, keep on smoking them. (I am assuming you know how to set up your smoker or grill for this. For instructions, please see my master ribs recipe.)
Here’s what they will look like after about 5 hours.
Here’s what they will look like after 15 hours.
And here’s what they will look like at 18 hours. I had to smoke these that long because of the humidity here in Arkansas.
Once they are done, you can keep them whole or grind them into powder. I like to keep them whole until I need them, and then grind them on the spot in an old coffee grinder that I only use for spices. Have fun with these!