How to make your own chipotles. BBQ smoke your own spicy and smoky backyard peppers
smoky homemade chipotles
homemade smoked peppers
A great way to preserve a bumper crop of backyard hot peppers is to cold smoke them and either dry them completely, or roast them and peel off the skins prior to freezing them. Ripe red jalapenos are traditionally used to make chipotles, and these are subjected to days of intense mesquite smoke in the drying process. You can use jalapeños, but any hot pepper will also work well. Mesquite is traditional, and works very well. You can buy bags of mesquite chips at most hardware stores; but if you have, or prefer, a different type of wood, then you can use it instead. Any hardwood will produce a good smoke for food, but avoid soft woods, as the resins will make food quite unpalatable.
The directions as followed are for a quick and dirty version of chipotles. Too really smoke dry them, you will need to spend days tending your smoker, and most people probably don't have the patience for that! You can get great results in an afternoon though, and the work involved is not very intensive.
The smoke to be used here is a cold smoke. You can use a bit of heat if you're feeling brave, but I've burnt more than my fair share of peppers trying to hot smoke them, and now stick to an initial hot smoke, followed by a drying period in the oven.
You can either dry these, or freeze them as fresh smoked chilies. Drying the peppers will create a complex and fruity flavor profile, and is well worth doing, but the fresh smoked chilies will also make a great addition to all your favorite hot dishes.
Backyard BBQ smoked chipotles
As many fresh hot peppers as you've got, or will fit on your grill
1 bag of well soaked wood chips, preferably mesquite *you should soak these chips for at least a half hour prior to using, but longer is better)
A few lumps of charcoal
Traditional chipotles are smoked whole, but I find that they take the smoke more quickly if you cut the tops off, and cut a slit down the side so you can open them up.
Get your wood chips smoking. If you have an old cast iron steel pan, or other steel heat proof receptacle, then that will work well as a wood chip holder. Start a couple of lumps of charcoal, and when they are burning red hot, add a good handful of wood chips. Place the pan underneath the grill rack. You don't want to add too much charcoal, as you are not looking for heat, only to cause the wood chips to smolder and smoke
Arrange the opened up chilies on the racks of your BBQ. Close the lid and let smoke away. You can't really give it too long; but there are diminishing returns with time. I usually give them about 4-5 hours of smoking.
Keep an occasional eye on the BBQ and add more wood chips and charcoal as needed.
They won't dry at all through this period of cold smoking, so if you want to make dried smoked peppers, transfer the chilies to the rack of your oven on the lowest possible setting, and let bake until dried, about 12 hours.
If you don't feel like drying them, you can roast them briefly over a very high heat, and then peel the skins off. Freeze these peppers until needed.