Spice Things Up!

One of the most important discoveries we’ve made with preparing tasty Paleo-friendly food is to spice it more than recipes call for. A trick many restaurants use to make food taste amazing is to add more spices to the food than people do at home. Sherry sometimes even doubles spice amounts in recipes to great effect!

In line with this, I was thinking about one of my favorite spices one day: chipotle. I love it with chicken, beef, pork, and in sauces. So, I figured I’d look online to see how easy or difficult it is to make chipotle on my own. It turns out it’s very simple and is nothing more than smoked jalapeno peppers, and I went about and tried it with great success.

How to make your own chipotle

Things you will need:

  • A smoker (electric, old-fashioned, bbq grill with smoker box)
  • Red jalapeno peppers (1 lb to start with is good)
  • A coffee grinder (that you will NOT use to grind coffee with)
  • Small funnel
  • A toothpick
  • A container to put your delicious chipotle powder into

Buy some red jalapenos. They will be a little deflated compared to green jalapenos, and that’s fine. We are going to dry them out, anyway.

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Wash the red jalapenos and cut the ends off of them (the stem end).

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After you’ve chopped the ends off the jalapeno, you can place them on the smoker rack as I have done below. Some people will slice the peppers in half and de-seed them. I have found that you can de-seed later, and it’s actually a lot easier and less messy. But that’s getting ahead of things, so let’s just put those peppers on the rack.

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I use cherry wood to smoke my chipotle, but you can use any fruit wood like apple or pecan (which is what Mexicans traditionally use). Mesquite can be a bit much for it, but feel free to experiment. The beauty of making your own chipotle is you can make different kinds to give different flavors to your foods.

I put the peppers in the smoker for 3 hours at 250 degrees. I make sure to get good, solid smoke going for the first hour, and let the peppers sit in the smoker for an additional two hours to dry them out.

When you pull them out, they will look like this and smell amazing!

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At this point, your chipotle peppers (yes, they are no longer just red jalapeno peppers anymore!) will smell great and should be very hard and crunchy. Now, this next part is kind of fun: taking out the seeds (which is optional).

You have to decide right now on how spicy you want your chipotle to be. If you want it to be as mild as possible (which is still a bit spicy, by the way), then you can remove the seeds by inserting a toothpick (I know you were wondering why the recipe called for a toothpick, right?) and carefully scratching the inside of the pepper until the seeds all fall out. You can elect to capture the seeds and grind them up individually to make a very spicy chipotle (which I did).

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Once the seeds are removed, you then take the peppers, smash them up in your hands, put the broken up pieces into a coffee grinder, and then grind for about 15-20 seconds.

What you should end up with is a very fine powder that looks something like this. BEWARE: The dust needs to settle inside the coffee grinder before you open it. If you open it too quickly, the dust will get into your eyes, nose, and lungs, and it can feel like you were sprayed with pepper spray. How do I know this? As a former Military Policeman, I trained with pepper spray, and we had to be sprayed to be certified to carry it. I was reminded of how terrible that sensation is the first time I made chipotle. But I digress. Look how awesome this chipotle powder looks!

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Next, use a small funnel and put the powder into a container of your choosing.

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Voila! You now have your own chipotle powder ready for use or for gifting. I made three different versions from the peppers I used: seedless, seeded (literally just the entire peppers ground up), and ground seeds (very spicy chipotle). With that said, the mildest is pretty spicy, but not so much as to be considered “hot.” I’d just call it a medium spicy.

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Mild (just pepper), Spicy (whole pepper with seeds), and HOT (ground seeds).

Give this a try if you have a smoker. It’s a lot of fun to make your own spices, and honestly, it’s the best smelling and tasting chipotle I’ve ever had. I can’t wait to make more things with it. So far, I’ve used it with ribs I smoked as well as putting a little bit into some hamburger patties I made last week that Sherry loved so much.

Spice things up! Make your food delicious! And share with friends and family. People love home-made gifts, especially when it’s something so useful, thoughtful, and delicious!

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