Mexico’s gift to high-flavor cooking is chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Typically sold in 7-ounce cans, these not entirely attractive (they look a bit prune-like) peppers pack gobs of smoky, chocolaty, slightly sweet piquancy.


Chipotles are jalapeño peppers that have been dried and smoked. In the U.S., they most often are sold canned in adobo sauce, a smooth tomato-vinegar blend spiked with garlic, onion and various spices.


The result is that you essentially get two ingredients in each can: peppers and sauce. The peppers marinate in the adobo, taking on its sweet tang. Meanwhile, the sauce absorbs some of the peppers’ heat.


One can is likely to last you a while. Though leftovers can be refrigerated for a couple weeks, your best bet is to divide the peppers and sauce into an ice cube tray, then freeze for easy use.


Chipotles in adobo sauce are wonderful in Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes. Chop them and mix them into shredded cheese for topping nachos. Dice or puree a few to crank up the heat of your favorite chili. Marinate beef strips in the sauce for tacos. Dice them and add to salsa.


For more ideas for using chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, see http://bit.ly/mw41sx.


­— J.M. Hirsch


Associated Press