What exactly are chipotles in adobo? In an earlier post, What is Chipotle?, I explained the transformation from ripe jalapeños to smoked and dried chipotles. To make this adobo, whole chipotles are re-hydrated and simmered long and low in a tomato, vinegar, garlic and onion sauce. The result is a tangy, sweet and smoky condiment that can be added to many of your favourite dishes.
There are canned chipotles in adobo that are very good, but they’re not widely available in Canadian supermarkets. This adobo recipe uses my chipotle powder in place of whole chipotles which are also hard to find. I’ve made this using both whole and ground chipotles to compare the flavour. It’s hard to tell the difference when I use it in other dishes or sauces.
While I prefer to use canned tomato purée, ketchup makes a decent substitute.
There are many different ways to use this versatile dressing, whether in marinades, sauces, braises or on it’s own as a condiment. Keep reading for 5 ideas that follow the recipe.
Easy Chipotles in Adobo
- 1 cup canned tomato purée Substitute 1/2 cup of ketchup
- 2 tbsp maple syrup or another sweetener Omit this if you're starting with ketchup.
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar While cider vinegar is the classic Mexican ingredient, just substitute white vinegar if you don't have it on hand.
- 1 tbsp Bluewater Pepper Farm Hot Smokey Chipotle powder If you have them, use 6-8 whole chipotles, soaked in hot water for 15 – 30 minutes.
- 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 medium onion, sliced very thin Use a mandolin for perfectly uniform, thin slices fast (just be careful!)
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped Use cloves whole or crushed if you prefer.
- 1/2 to 1 cup water You'll need to add more water if you use ketchup.
- Whisk the tomato, vinegar, chipotle powder and a little water together in a small saucepan and bring up to a boil. Use about 1/2 cup water if you're starting out with ketchup.
- Stir in the sliced onions, garlic and peppercorns, return to a boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer for 60 minutes or so. Stir often and add water to keep it from getting to thick. Since we are using chipotle powder, you could reduce the cooking time if you need to, but it really does benefit from a long slow cook.
- You'll want to end up with a consistency a bit thicker than ketchup, so keep that in mind and add water accordingly as it cooks.
- Once it's simmered a while and reached the right thickness, remove the pot from the heat and allow it to cool completely.
- Use some right away and store the rest in a container in the fridge for a month or more.
Here are 5 simple ways to enjoy Chipotles in Adobo . . .
Adobo translates to English as “dressing”, and as that word implies it’s something you combine with other ingredients or add to dishes.
- Make a BBQ sauce. Combine 1/3 cup chipotles in adobo with 2/3 cup of ketchup then add mustard and maple syrup (my favourite) and a little more vinegar to taste. You can be creative with BBQ sauce as long as you maintain a nice balance of sweet, acid and spices. Add garlic and ginger (fresh grated or powdered), honey, lime or lemon juice. This will taste great on anything grilled – slather it on as you finish grilling to get a little caramelization.
- Taco sauce. Combine roughly equal parts chipotles in adobo and mayo and add a little sour cream or yogurt. Plop a spoonful on a taco or a burger, but be careful, you might just eat the sauce by itself.
- Add a few tablespoons of chipotles in adobo to a batch of chili con carne to lend awesome barbecue flavour.
- Stir-fry sauce. Combine chipotles in adobo and water. Saute seasoned, cubed chicken breast, shrimp, beef strips, pork, tofu or any protein you like. When nearly finished, toss in the sauce to finish cooking. Make it
- Add a few tablespoons of chipotles in adobo to your marinades. I like to add some to my marinade for oxtail pieces when I make the Jamaican standard, oxtail stew.
One more thing, I highly recommend the cookbook Everyday Mexican by renowned chef and student of Mexican cuisine, Rick Bayless as a starting point for cooking with Mexican ingredients (of course chipotle, but so much more). In fact, pick up any of his cookbooks, and you’ll be inspired to cook more Mexican!