Home Smoked Chipotle Chiles
Chunks or logs of fragrant hardwood, preferably a combination of oak & mesquite 1 1/4 lb red ripe jalapeño chilies with stems 1/2 cup dried red New Mexico chili puree or commercial chili paste 1/3 cup water 2 Tbsp tomato paste 2 Tbsp cider vinegar 1 Tbsp packed dark brown sugar 1 clove fresh garlic, peeled and crushed 1/4 tsp salt
Prepare a smoker according to the manufacturer's directions, using the wood chunks and achieving a steady temperature of 275 to 300 degrees F.
Place the chilies directly on the smoker rack (or use a shallow disposable foil pan) at the cooler end of the smoking chamber or on the upper rack if your smoker has one. Lower the cover and smoke the chilies for 2 1/2 hours, or until they are soft, brown, and slightly shriveled. Remove the chipotles from the smoker.
In a medium nonreactive saucepan, combine them with the chili puree, water, tomato paste, vinegar, brown sugar, garlic and salt. Set over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook stirring once or twice, until the sauce is very thick, about 15 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
Transfer the chipotles to a covered storage container and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before using. They can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks or frozen for up to 2 months.
Unsauced Dried Chipotles:
After removing the chilies from the smoker, place them on a rack and leave them, loosely covered, at room temperature, until crisp, light, and dry, 1 to 2 weeks, depending on the humidity. Store airtight at room temperature.
NOTES: Green jalapeños can be used, but red ones are more beautiful and have a deeper, sweeter flavor. Grow your own, or in the store, select chilies that have begun to turn red; they will eventually ripen. (Those picked without any red at all in their peels will always remain green.)