Whole Chipotle Meco Peppers: Flavor Profile
Chipotle meco are dried brown chipotle peppers, the pepper of the jalapeño plant. Also known as chipotle típico, Meco chipotles are a favorite spice in Mexican and Central American cuisine. The pepper’s rich, smoked hickory flavor and mild heat provide a bold dash of flavor to Mexican sauces, soups and dry rubs.
Chipotles are all made from smoked red jalapeno peppers. Chipotle meco, though, are left on the vine longer and smoked for a longer period than chipotle morita. The result is a robust chipotle flavor, that’s slightly spicy with earthy fruitiness.
Cooking with Chipotle Meco
You’ll find two types of chipotle peppers – moritas and meco – both of which are smoked jalapenos.
Compared to the moritas, the chipotle meco has a much richer and fuller taste. Meco chipotles are smoked twice as long as the moritas, and this yields a bold, doused-in-smoke profile. In terms of appearance, the meco chipotles have a dull, light brown appearance. They look like a piece of tree bark, while the moritas tend to retain some of their reddish color. The extra smoke also makes mecos crisper.
In terms of cooking, chipotle mecos have a few common uses in the kitchen. Primarily, they’re used to add smoky and mild spicy flavors to stews and sauces. A few preparation tips:
- Ground Chipotle Meco – Whole chipotles can be ground into a powder, which works well in soups, sauces and stews. The powder also adds smoke and spice to any dry rub.
- Sliced Chipotles – Slice the dried peppers up and add them to a stock pot. Chipotle meco help to add depth to long-simmering dishes.
- Whole Chipotles – Used whole, chipotles can be added to soups, stews and sauces. The longer the dish simmers, the more of the chipotle’s smoke gets infused. Typically, they’re removed prior to serving.
- Rehydrating – You can rehydrate the peppers in hot water for about 20 minutes. Although, be careful not to leave them to sit too long. They do become bitter if rehydrated for more than 20 minutes. Rehydrated chipotles are great in chilis and mole.
Chipotle Meco: Cultivation
Chiles have been cultivated in Mexico for centuries. In fact, early records show chile plants were first cultivated in Mexico as early as 4100 BC.
Chipotles are made from ripe, mature jalapenos, one of the most popular chile peppers grown in Mexico. In fact, jalapenos account for roughly 30 percent of Mexico’s chile output – far more than any other variety. As such, jalapenos are tied to Mexican culture, but their popularity varies by region. In Yucatan cities, for example, jalapenos are actually quite difficult to find, while you’ll find them in abundance around Mexico City.
On the vine, jalapenos ripen to a vibrant red color. Chipotle meco chiles are left on the vine the longest, until the moisture starts to leave the fruit. Once harvested, the peppers are smoked in a traditional open-pit smoker. Growers tend to add flavors when smoking, using hickory wood chips, walnut and other aromatic woods.
History of Chipotle Meco
For centuries, Mexicans have been smoking the popular pepper. In fact, chipotle comes from the Aztec word “chilpoctli” – which literally means smoked chile. Although its not exactly known why the Aztecs began smoke-drying peppers, it’s believed that the traditional process helped preserve the peppers, which would rot when sun dried.
The chipotle meco peppers are the most popular chipotle in Mexico, and are actually preferred to the moritas (which are more common in the U.S.). The peppers are sometimes called chile naviendo – or Christmas chile – because they are used to make a popular Christmastime dish. A large part of Mexico’s chile crop become chipotles. In fact, some estimate as much as 30 percent, or 600,000 tons, are smoke-dried to make chipotles.
About Our Chipotle Meco
Burma Spice sources its chipotle meco peppers from small family farms in southern New Mexico. Our farms are located near Hatch, one of the country’s most iconic pepper growing locales. The region is known for producing a spicy, rich and chocolately chipotle pepper.
Our chipotles are dried on the farms they’re sourced from using traditional methods. Typically, the process includes an open-flame smoking process using hickory and walnut wood chips. The result: Whole chipotle meco that are delicate and nutty, with a subtle spiciness. We hand pack the dried peppers in our spice shop.