The popularity of Mexican food and produce has now spread well-beyond Mexico and America. Along with the opening of Mexican, and Mexican-fusion style restaurants, individual foods have become common on grocery store shelves world-wide. One of the most popular products becoming a staple in many pantries is Chipotle Sauce. But what is Chipotle sauce, and how can you use it?
What is a chipotle?
Chipotle is the name given to smoke-dried jalapeño chilies, of which there are several varieties. Originally from Mexico, the jalapeño is a medium-sized chili pepper pod type plant, belonging to the same family as capsicums. While jalapeños are sometimes allowed to fully ripen and turn red, orange, or yellow, they are most often picked and consumed while still green. Jalapeños are classed as a mild-to-hot chilli, and after being smoke-dried, as a chipotle it has a spicy, smoky flavour.
The chipotle can be used in many ways in a variety of Mexican and other dishes, but is perhaps best known when turned into a sauce: chipotle sauce. As the Huffington Post explains:
More commonly made from red jalapeños, chipotles date as far back as the Aztecs, who smoked peppers as a preservative measure because the jalapeño’s thick flesh would rot before completely air drying. It’s believed chipotle comes from the Nahuatl word, “chilpotle,” which means “smoked chili pepper.”
What is the difference between chipotle sauce and hot sauce?
Hot sauce refers to any condiment, seasoning, or other product made from chili peppers and other ingredients. So, a chipotle sauce is a variety of hot sauce.
There a many recipes for chipotle sauce, but a common element is the mixing of chipotles with something like Greek yoghurt, sour cream, or cream, along with some other spices and often lime. There are also versions of Chipotle sauce that do not include yoghurt or cream/milk based ingredients.
What can you use chipotle sauce for?
Chipotle sauce is most commonly found in Mexican, Tex-Mex and other Northern American cooking. It can be used as a standard condiment, added at the end of the cooking process just like tomato or BBQ sauce.
However, it can also be used as an ingredient within a variety of recipes. It can add a smoky-spicy flavour to a standard meatball dish, or in a more traditional Mexican-style dish, like Chicken Enchiladas. It can also be found in Mexican style sauces accompanying a staple like corn, for example, try making a grilled corn dish with a chipotle lime mayonnaise. Alternatively, the versatile sauce can be used in fusion-style cooking, like a pulled beef with slaw recipe.