Chipotle gets its time in the spotlight

I have something in common with chipotle chile peppers. We both have our special celebratory day overshadowed by something bigger. My birthday, December 25, is obviously much more, while National Chipotle Day, May 5, is mostly forgotten by Cinco de Mayo festivities. While I’ve accepted my backstage status, I hope to give the humble chipotle it’s moment in the spotlight. Chipotle are the smoked, dry form of ripe jalapeno peppers, smoked slowly over the dried leaves of jalapeno plants. They add a smoky, toasted flavor and mild spiciness to salsas, marinades, beans, soups, sauces and stews. Chipotles can be purchased dried (whole or powdered,) canned in adobo sauce (made by stewing them in onions, tomato, vinegar and spices,) and pickled. Here are a few recipes to “Ole’!” about.

Roasted Corn Soup with Smoked Chiles &Cheese

ADVERTISING


Mark Miller, cookbook author and chef of the celebrated Coyote Café in New Mexico, says that the sweet flavor of roasted corn complements the smoky flavor of chipotle chiles and the feta cheese. This easy recipe is from his “Coyote Café” cookbook; makes 6 servings.

10 ears fresh corn in the husk

5 cups water

4 dry (or canned) chipotle chiles, deveined, seeded, and julienned

Salt to taste

4 ounces feta cheese (or queso fresco)

Roast corn on a cookie sheet in a preheated 400 degree oven for 45 to 60 minutes; outside of husks should be dry and dark brown. Cool husks, shuck corn, and cut kernels from the cobs. In a blender, puree 3 cups corn with 3 cups water. Over low heat, cook the puree in a pan with the chipotle chiles and remaining water for 10 to 15 minutes. Add reserved whole kernels and salt; pour soup into bowls and crumble cheese over the top. Serve hot.

Chipotle Grilled Chicken

Serve this simple entrée with warm corn tortillas and a creamy avocado salsa to contrast the smoky, spicy kick. Recipe from “Baja! Cooking on the Edge” by Deborah M. Schneider; makes 6 servings.

1 can (7 ounces) chipotles in adobo

4 large garlic cloves

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3 small whole chickens, cut into halves or quarters

In a food processor, puree chipotles, garlic, oil and salt. Wipe chickens with paper towels, then thoroughly coat pieces on all sides with a layer of the chipotle paste. Place chicken in a nonreactive baking dish or resealable bags; refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight. Heat grill to medium. With lid open, grill chicken on both sides until well-marked but not burned, about 7 minutes per side. Turn heat to low; close lid and cook chicken, skin side up, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees. (Alternatively, bake at 350 F for about 30 to 40 minutes.) Serve with tortillas and salsa.

Green Apple-Chipotle Salsa

The Old-World pork &apple combo gets a New-World twist with this intriguing salsa from “Big Flavors of the Hot Sun” by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby. Serve with grilled pork chops; makes about 4 cups.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 large yellow onion, diced small

6 Granny Smith apples, unpeeled, cored and chopped into bite-size pieces

2 canned chipotle peppers

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons molasses

2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano

Salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

In a large sauté pan, heat oil until hot but not smoking. Add onion; cook over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add apples; cover and continue cooking over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes or until apples are slightly soft on the exterior. Remove from heat; set aside to cool. Combine chipotles and vinegar in a blender or food processor; puree. Transfer to a medium bowl; add cumin, lemon juice, molasses, oregano; mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add apples and onions to the chipotle mixture and stir well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Creamy Chipotle Chicken

Here’s one for the slow cooker: creamy chicken with a little kick. Serve with rice and a little more sauce on the side. Recipe from Allrecipes.com; makes 4 servings.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

1/4 cup melted butter

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

2 cloves garlic, minced

10.75-ounce can condensed cream of chicken soup

1/2 cup chicken broth

8-ounce package cream cheese, cut into cubes

3 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, minced

ADVERTISING


1 tablespoon adobo sauce from chipotle peppers

Place chicken into slow cooker; brush with butter and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and minced garlic. Pour cream of chicken soup over; add chicken broth and cream cheese, chipotle peppers, and adobo sauce. Stir mixture gently. Cover, set cooker to low, and cook for 6 hours. Serve hot with rice.