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Cooking Q&A: Cooking with Chipotle Peppers?

I love adding spice to my meals -- what's a great recipes that uses chipotle peppers?

Canned chipotle peppers in adobo are my secret weapon. Five years ago, I didn’t even know what a chipotle was, but this humble chile is now my go-to seasoning when I’m making something that needs a subtle kick. Canned chipotles are smoked red jalapenos immersed in adobo; adobo is a pureed sauce of vinegar, tomato, and ancho chile. The peppers are smoky and spicy (but not habanero hot), and the flavor serves as a perfect tangy counterbalance to rich foods like cheese, mayo, butter, or sour cream. I have at least two or three cans in my pantry at all times -- they’re cheap and keep forever.

If you want to experiment, puree 2 tablespoons of adobo with one pepper and stir it into:

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup mayo
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese

The chipotle sour cream will rock any burrito or taco you put in your mouth, but I love it with fish tacos. You can substitute the straight puree (about 1 tablespoon) for the fresh serrano pepper in the mango salsa recipe that goes with these Fish Tacos. I wasn’t a huge fan of the sun-dried tomato-chipotle spread in this Spicy Southwest Chicken Sandwich (besides…who’s got sun-dried tomatoes in oil just lying around the house?), so I used the chipotle mayo instead. It zings on a Tex-Mex Burger topped with avocado and jack cheese too.

The chipotle cream cheese can be spread on toasted bread for a veggie sandwich, or as a savory spread on crackers or baguette slices. I stir a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar into the spread to give it a sweet sharpness.

They're too hot to eat in a spicy-hot soup, but this Tortilla Soup with Shredded Chicken and Avocado is delicious served cold. The broth flavors intensify if you make it a day ahead and chill it, but because cold foods tend to need more seasoning (heat opens up flavors, but cold mutes them), I swirl 1 tablespoon of chipotle-adobo puree into the broth instead of the 1/4 teaspoon of chipotle powder.

-- Colleen Rush

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