What the Heck Is A Chipotle?
I just recently learned this but a chipotle is a smoke-dried jalapeño pepper. It comes from the word chilpoctli which means smoked chili pepper. A very popular pepper in Mexico, jalapeños that have been left on their plants at the end of the growing season turn bright red and loose a lot of their moisture. These are then picked to be used for making chipotle.
Placed into a smoker, the ripe jalapeños are smoked for several days until they lose their moisture and get prune like. I read that it takes 10 pounds of jalapeños to make 1 pound of chipotle. The heat of the chipotle has a lot to do with the heat of the jalapeño it comes from.
Sauce or Salsa
I call this recipe a chipotle sauce but it can also be called a chipotle salsa because salsa means sauce in Spanish. I think of salsa in the more traditional American way and that is as a salsa cruda or pico de gallo, you know, the stuff we serve with corn chips while watching sports. See my version of salsa cruda here.
I learned how to make this simple sauce(salsa) from my friend Paula who is from Mexico. She is a wonderful cook and has been teaching me the basics of Mexican cuisine and I'm not talking about anything fancy, just simple, traditional and very tasty.
What's really great about this sauce is you combine heat with a smoky flavor and you can use it with just about anything. I've tried this on pan fried chicken, fish, tacos, beef, leftover rice and pasta or as a snack with corn chips. It's easy to make at home and a lot cheaper than some of the commercial varieties.