Introduction: British Bred Chipotles (smoked Dried Chillies)

My partner this year decided that she was going to grow chilli plants and so I was despatched to the shops to buy the seeds she needed. I later returned triumphantly from a successful hunter gathering mission with a small grow bag containing some compost and ten jalapeno chilli seeds. Dawn (my partner) then set to work growing the plants...she lovingly tended them...and they grew......they grew some more....they grew even more.....they took over every windowsill in our house.......they started to block out the light coming through our windows and in the end they bore chillies...lots of many chillies we wondered what we could do with them all, we ate some of course, we made lots of chilli jam, we stuffed as many as we could into the freezer but we still had more. We researched how to air dry chillies, which in a dry climate would have been ideal but the sad fact is that we live in the (mainly damp) u.k. and jalapenos have a thick skin which means that they tend to not dry very well at all. So it was back to the research. A little later I had the answer, I had read about how in mexico they dry the chillies in smoke to flavour and preserve them...We had a smoker....our chillies were saved....or so we thought.
Fire up the smoker, place the chillies in, smoke till dryish......they tasted awful. I wasn't going to be beaten though, we would have chipotles even if i had to invent a new method of making them, and so i did, here it is...

Step 1: Ingrediants

You will need.

Chillies (I've only used red as i believe the green ones turn black when dried)
Equal quantities of salt and sugar (the amount you need depends on the amount of chillies you have)

Here I'm using golden caster sugar and fine grain sea salt you will need enough of it to be able to bury your chillies in it (skip forward a few steps, you'll see what i mean).

Step 2: Tools

You will need..

A tray or shallow dish
Chopping board
Smoker (here I'm using a fish smoker)
wood chippings (or whatever your smoker uses to create smoke)

On the subject of smoke chips, differing woods produce different flavours, here after seeing a well known British chef do it on the T.V. I'm trying out wood chip pet bedding but after sampling the taste of the smoked food produced I'd advise against it for this recipe and stick with the oak chips I used for my first batch.

Step 3: Tools I Forgot in the Last Step..

Don't do as I almost did and forget these..

Something to drain the chillies in ( A big sieve works well)
Some kitchen roll

Step 4: Wash, Cut and Deseed

Wash your chillies then cut the stalk end off, slice them in half length ways and get rid of as many seeds as possible, oh and make sure you wash your hands after wards.

Step 5: Rack Em Up.

Place the chilli halves skin side up on your smokers rack. We want the smoke to be able to easily penetrate the fleshy parts of the chillies.

Step 6: Smokin'

Place the chillies in your smoker and smoke according to taste. The next step brings out more of the smokey flavour so it's better to slightly under smoke rather than over smoke. Using oak chips with my first batch I smoked them for around 30 minutes or until they just started to get a smokey residue stuck to the skins.

Step 7: Cure

Put enough sugar and salt to cover the chillies onto your tray and mix together well.

Step 8: Bury

Place the chillies fleshy side down on the salt and cover them over, then leave them somewhere overnight and take a break.

Step 9: The Next Day.

After leaving your chillies overnight you will end up with this soggy looking mess of salt, sugar and chillies do not panic this is what we want. The salt and sugar has drawn a lot of the moisture from the chillies and also greatly condensed the flavour.....just smell that smokey chilli goodness MMMmmm.
O.K time to get digging, release those chillies from their salty tomb, if everythings gone well your chillies will look like wrinkly prunes.

Step 10: Rinse and Dry

Give the chillies a quick rinse under some running water to get the last of the salt and sugar off, don't rinse for too long though as you want to keep the chillies as dry as possible. When you've got as much salt off as you can (a little bit left doesn't matter) place them on some kitchen paper and blot as dry as you can.

Step 11: Dry

Place the chillies fleshy side down on a baking tray and place in an oven turned down to the absolute lowest setting it will go to, Leave the door of the oven slightly open and check your chillies every so often (30 minute intervals works well for me)
Dry the chillies till they are leathery or if you want to crush them to make chilli powder dry till crisp, it shouldn't take longer than a couple of hours at the most.

Step 12: Finished

Store your chipotles in an airtight jar with a little sprinkle of salt in the bottom.

The chipotles have a lovely smokey sweet chilli taste to them and smell amazing, keep the jar in a cupboard and use them wherever you want to pep up a recipe, hope you enjoyed this instructable.
all comments good or bad gratefully received.

Dawn found a great recipe for chilli jam and adapted it to her tastes, she used some of these very chipotles in it, you can find the recipe here....