March 24, 2010 1:04 PM
The Chipotle chile is the Jalapeño chile, that has been ripened, dried and smoked. Its name comes from the náhuatl Chilli or Chile, and Poctli or smoke.
The process of drying and smoking Jalapeños has existed for centuries, even before the Spaniards arrived. It was considered a way to preserve chiles for long periods of time and also bring out their interesting qualities.
There are different kinds of Chipotle chiles, all of which are spicy, smoky and rich (continue for more information and photo).
This photo shows two varieties of Chipotles. On the left we see the longer Chipotles mecos, and in the middle we see medium sized Chipotles mecos. All the mecos come from a larger variety of Jalapeños. On the right we see the smaller Chipotles moritas, which come from smaller varieties of Jalapeños with a slightly different flavor and a bit more fragrant smell.
One of the more popular spins of any Chipotle chiles are when they are pickled and preserved in adobo sauce and turned into Chiles Chipotles in Adobo Sauce. Another popular take is when they are pickled in vinegar and spices and become Pickled Chipotles. But they are also used regularly, as they are dried and smoked, for many dishes, stews, soups, sauces and moles.