Why Chipotle is Popular in Mexican Hot Sauce
There are many varieties of hot sauce available today. Hot sauces are typically made of nothing more than vinegar and peppers. These sauces range from mild to regret-inducing hot. Not does the heat vary, but the flavor varies as well. A hot sauce from New York will likely taste different from a southern hot sauce. One of the most popular sauces that has spread north of the border is Mexican hot sauce, which frequently utilizes the unique taste of chipotle peppers.
What is Chipotle?
A chipotle pepper is nothing more than a dried, smoked jalapeno pepper. Anybody who has seen a jalapeno before, whether just in passing at a grocery store or while cooking with them, knows they are bright green, but if you are fortunate enough to spot a chipotle pepper in a local store, it will look quite different, almost like giant raisin. This is because all of the moisture within the jalapeno pepper is removed in a long process.
How It's Made
It all starts when jalapenos are still dangling off their plants. The green jalapenos you see in grocery stores are picked before they completely ripen, and so keep their green color. As jalapenos ripen, they turn red, and it is these red peppers that are selected specifically to become chipotle peppers. These peppers are placed on a metal rack, and placed in a smoker where they will sit for a number of days, only to be disturbed by stirring every few hours. At the end of the process, you have the raisin-looking chipotle peppers ready for use in soups, marinades, and sauces.
The taste of a chipotle pepper is quite different from that of a jalapeno. The taste and heat of the jalapeno is combined with a taste of smoke. This provides an earthy, more flavorful pepper. Compared to other American sauces, Mexican hot sauce focuses more on flavor than heat. Chipotle peppers will still make your eyes sweat, but not so much that the flavor of the sauce is overwhelmed. Other, hotter sauces, like those popular around Louisiana, use a lot of vinegar as flavor to pair with the pure heat, but chipotle sauces don't have a need for so much vinegar. The chipotle pepper, with the unique flavor it can bring to sauces, is becoming ever more popular in North America, so you can impress your friends and family when you can tell them exactly what it is, how it's made, and why it is used.