Chipotle Flavors: Chipotle Heaven in Texas!

Jackson Ortega-Scheiner Chipotle Flavors Leave a Comment

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Story & Photos by Dave DeWitt


Smoked Serrano and
Roasted Tomato Salsa

Smoky Red Chile Sauce,
New Mexico-Style

Chipotle Texas Mole Sauce

Barbecued Beef Ribs,
Chipotle Texas-Style


First I started coughing. Then I sneezed repeatedly. My nose started running like a faucet. I was coming down with a severe case of “chipotle flu” caused by the capsaicin fumes and pecan wood smoke of the Chipotle Texas operation in the tiny town of Ft. Hancock.

Why, you ask, why would a cotton and chile farmer who had never heard of chipotles until 2002 risk three quarters of a million dollars on a state-of-the-art chipotle production facility? Because the smoke-dried jalapeños are big business in the U.S., with everyone from the McIlhenny Company (the Tabasco® people) to Chipotle Grill chain of restaurants using chipotles in gigantic quantities for sauces and flavorings, that’s why.

Another reason is that traditional chipotle supplies from Mexico are often unreliable, of poor quality, and are sometimes difficult to get through Customs. Gale Carr, manager of the plant and a farmer with a masters’ degree in business, believes that American-made chipotles offering quality, consistency, and cleanliness will soon take over from the imports—and he showed me the lab reports to prove the higher quality of his chipotles. “Basically, we are taking two by-products that nobody wants—red jalapeños and pecan tree trimmings—and turning them into a gourmet product,” he told me.

Jalapeños being sorted and cleaned

Jalapeños being sorted and cleaned …

The pods are machine-sliced

… and machine-sliced.

Carr’s plant processes 40,000 pounds of fresh jalapeños a day, both red and green. From huge trucks, the pods are cleaned of debris, sorted, washed, disinfected, and sliced using an elaborate series of conveyors, and then are placed on large wooden trays in tall metal racks. They are dehydrated in large cinder block tunnels that use burners generating four million BTUs, and the heat is circulated using aircraft propellers.

Firing up the dehydrator

Firing up the dehydrator.





The partially dried pods are then smoked in special rooms using a proprietary process. The smoke was so thick in the rooms I couldn’t even get a glimpse of the equipment being used, but Carr says the process is simpler than you’d think.

The finished chipotles on racks after smoking

The finished chipotles on racks after smoking.






Huge bags of chipotles piled high

Huge bags of chipotles piled high.






On the day I visited, the Chipotle Texas plant was processing and smoking green jalapeños, which Carr believes will be a successful smoked product in addition to the whole red chipotles and chipotle powder. He is also now selling smoked red and green serranos and dried red New Mexican varieties.

Pods and Powders: The finished products



The finished products.

Top row, left to right: red serranos,
green serranos, green chipotles, red

Middle row: red smoked powder; green unsmoked powder.

Bottom row: smoked red New Mexicans, smoked red chipotles with stems on.


After the tour of the facility, Carr took me to a local café, where we sipped iced tea and tasted a bright red, fiery chipotle sauce made with his product. It was delicious. As I munched on chips dipped in the sauce, I noticed that my sneezing had ceased, my nose had stopped running, and my taste buds were now tingling.

Reach Chipotle Texas through their web site, here or by calling 915-769-0097.


Smoked Serrano and Roasted Tomato Salsa

Of course, there has to be an exception to the rule that salsas are uncooked and sauces cooked.  Here’s one in between, a simple but tasty salsa that’s served in south Texas norteño restaurants as a dip for chips.  The texture is smooth and the sauce is smoky and flecked with tiny bits of the charred tomato skins, which add an interesting taste.

2 large tomatoes
1 tablespoon Chipotle Texas Red Serrano Powder, buy here
1/4 teaspoon salt

Grill the tomatoes and chiles by placing them 3 to 6 inches above hot coals.  Turn them often until they are soft and the skins are charred.  Place them in a blender along with the Red Serrano Powder. Puree for about 30 seconds.  Strain the salsa and add the salt, mixing well.

Yield: 3/4 cup
Heat Scale: Medium

Smoky Red Chile Sauce, New Mexico-Style

This basic sauce–smoked up with unique red chile pods–can be used in traditional New Mexican or New Southwestern versions of beans, tacos, tamales, and enchiladas.

10 to 12 Chipotle Texas Smoked Red Chile pods, buy here
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 cups homemade beef stock

Place the chiles on a baking pan and place in a 250 degree F. oven for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the chiles are toasted, taking care not to let them burn.  Remove the stems and seeds and crumble into a saucepan.

Add the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.

Puree the mixture in a blender until smooth and strain.  If the sauce is too thin, place it back on the stove and simmer until it is reduced to the desired consistency.

Yield: 2 to 2-1/2 cups
Heat Scale: Medium

Chipotle Texas Mole Sauce

Here is the classic Mexican sauce using Chipotle Texas products.  Traditionally, this sauce is served over cooked turkey or chicken, but feel free to use it as an enchilada sauce.

4 Chipotle Texas Dried Ancho pods, stems and seeds removed, buy here
4 Chipotle Texas Dried Pasilla pods, stems and seeds removed, buy here
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped
3 tomatillos, chopped
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup almonds, chopped
1 corn tortilla, torn in pieces
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1/4 teaspoon each ground cloves, cinnamon, and coriander
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups chicken broth
1 ounce bitter chocolate (or more to taste)

Simmer the chiles in a pot of water for 15 minutes to soften.  Remove the chiles and reserve the water.

Combine the chiles, onion, garlic, tomatoes, tomatillos, seeds, almonds, tortilla, raisins and spices in a blender and puree, in small batches, until smooth.

Heat the oil in a large skillet and saute the puree for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the broth, 1 cup of the chile water, and the chocolate and cook over a very low heat for 30 to 45 minutes, or until thick.

Yield: 4 cups
Heat Scale: Medium

Barbecued Beef Ribs, Chipotle Texas-Style

Texas is beef country and was once the land of cattle drives through such cities as Amarillo and Abilene. Texans love to barbecue beef, which can take hours or even days, but the results are worth it. The following recipe doesn’t take twenty-four hours, but the ribs should be cooked slowly over charcoal, or in a smoker, taking care that the sauce doesn’t burn during the last 30 minutes.  Serve with corn on the cob and coleslaw.

For the Ribs:

3 pounds beef ribs
1 Bottle Chipotle Texas Sabroso Southern Rib Rub, buy here
Soak pecan wood chips in water

For the Sauce:

6 Chipotle Texas Smoked Jalapeño pods, stems and seeds removed, rehydrated and chopped, buy here
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup tomato sauce
2 cups beef broth
1/4 cup cider vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon ground habanero chile
Freshly ground black pepper

Rub the ribs with the Southern Rib Rub, wrap them in plastic wrap, and let them sit for at least one hour. Build a charcoal fire in the grill or a pecan wood fire in the smoker.

To make the sauce, saute the jalapeños, onions, and garlic in the oil in a skillet until soft. Place the mixture in a blender and puree until smooth.  Add the remaining ingredients, except the ribs, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce has thickened.

Place soaked wood chips on the charcoal, and place the rips on the grill away from the coals.  Cook the ribs indirectly, covered, for about 45 minutes turning several time.  Baste the ribs with the sauce and continue to cook indirectly for additional 30 minutes, being careful that they do not burn.

Yield: 4 servings
Heat Scale: Medium


Smoky Chiles Basics

How to Smoke Chiles

Chipotles in the

Chipotle Recipes
& Products

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