Monday, October 22, 2007
I spent the weekend smoking some organic red jalapeno peppers from One Straw Farm this weekend and turning them into authentic Mexican-style, direct from Hunt Valley, chipotle chiles. It was a side project I did for Spike and Woodberry Kitchen. One case of peppers created about 20 liters (by volume) of chipotles.
I had never smoked chiles before so much of this was experimentation. Not enough smoking and drying and the interior would be too moist and rot. Too much smoke and the pepper would blacken, turn brittle and be completely destroyed. Finding just the right medium turned out to be quite a task.
Through trial and error, I discovered that the optimum chipotle could be produced at roughly 220 degrees Farhenheit in about eight hours. That was on Friday. In the rain. On Sunday, the same parameters developed chipotles that were too dry and brittle. It was a beautiful, sunny day and I had miscalculated and forgotten to take the weather and humidity into account in the drying process. Mistake.
But in the end, we ended up with some really nice chipotle chiles that will be making their way into one of your dishes at Woodberry Kitchen soon.
As for the other peppers that were deemed "well done"? I stemmed them and ground them for chipotle powder. And promptly wiped my eye and forehead after working with the powder...