CHIPOTLE MECO PEPPER
Chipotles are smoked jalapenos and are used primarily in Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisines. Jalapenos are the species Capsicum annuum. The harder to find Chipotle Meco Pepper chiles are also known as Chile “Meco” or Chipotle Tipico.
In a typical jalapeno field, a grower makes multiple passes harvesting the unripe green jalapenos for local markets. At the end of the growing season, the remaining jalapenos have fully ripened turning a brilliant red and there is a growing demand for these freshly picked, ripened red jalapenos in both the U.S. and Mexico.
Brown chipotles can be used anywhere you use a Morita chipotle, this one just offers a huskier flavor with a lot more smoke. Outside of its usual culinary rigmaroles, this chile is fantastic when toasted, ground, and mixed with a bit of ground cinnamon before being swirled into to a cup of hot chocolate.
Two Types of Chipotle Chiles
While the Chipotle Meco Pepper has become wildly popular in the U.S. in the last 10 years a true chilehead knows there is more than one type of Chipotle. There are actually two types of chipotle chiles – “Morita” and “Meco”. Both the Morita and the Meco are smoked jalapenos.
The more commonly used in our country is the Chipotle “Morita” chile. “Morita” translates to “little blackberry” in Spanish, these chiles are the smaller of the two and are more leathery and pliable. The Chipotle Meco Pepper is larger and stiffer with a grayish-tan coloring and is best described as looking like a cigar butt.
“Morita” Chipotles are picked when the jalapenos are still green and are then smoked. “Meco” Chipotle chiles are mature jalapenos that are left in the bush even longer than those that are picked as red jalapenos to be sold in various markets.
This additional time on the bush results in an even deeper red color and as these chiles start losing their moisture they’re then harvested to be transformed into “Meco” chipotles.
“Meco” chipotles are smoked for about twice as long as “Moritas” which gives them a more intense and richer flavor. In northern Mexico, fully ripened red jalapenos are smoked in large pits on a rack constructed of bamboo, metal or wood. Another pit is built nearby that houses the fire and there is a connecting tunnel where drafts of air pull the smoke up and over the pods.
“Meco” Chipotles smoked in this time-honored Mexican tradition are much more difficult to get here in the U.S. and depending on the supplier may be much more expensive than the “Moritas” with prices typically being $4-$8 more per lb.
Because of this big price difference be aware of either unscrupulous suppliers or suppliers lacking sufficient knowledge selling “Moritas” in place of “Mecos”. Chipotle “Morita” Chiles are certainly not inferior chiles (just different) as they are actually quite delicious and their flavor profile is even be preferred by some.
Most chileheads view the Chipotle Meco Pepper chipotle as the better quality of the two and if you’ve never experienced a Chipotle Meco Pepper you are in for a real treat!
Heat Level and Flavor Profile
Chipotle Meco Pepper Chiles are considered a medium heat chile and come in at 5,000 to 10,000 SHU (Scoville Heat Units).
The flavor profile is smoky with a slightly spicy, grassy fruitiness. The “Meco” also tends to hold up better than the “Morita” to stronger flavors.
Whole Brown Chipotle Chiles can be used to enhance the flavor in a chili, enchilada sauces, stew, barbecue ribs, or cornbread. Their unique smoky flavoring compliments poultry, red meats, and fall squash.
We also carry a growing selection of Mexican chiles with the most popular being Ancho Chiles, Pasilla Chiles, Habanero Chiles and Guajillo Chiles. If you prefer the convenience of a powder then check out our Chipotle “Meco” Chile Powder.
You’ll also find a nice selection of chile powders and chile flakes.
Chipotle chili in adobo (chipotles in adobo)
Either chipotle Meco pepper (with a tobacco color and tiger stripe) or chipotle mora (mora meaning blackberry, the approximate color of the dried chili) may be used in this recipe, but a sweeter, fruitier flavor comes from the mora, which is smoked while plump and ripe. The chipotle Meco is smoked after drying the chili in the bush and has a more intense heat and flavor.
Makes 1 liter
- 130 g chipotle Meco or chipotle mora
- 3 ancho chilies
- 150 g tomato, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 whole allspice
- ¼ bunch thyme
- ½ tsp dried Mexican oregano
- 8 peppercorns
- 60 ml (¼ cup) vegetable oil
- 1 white onion, thinly sliced
- 175 ml apple cider vinegar
- 125 ml white vinegar
- 2 tsp salt
- 55 g piloncillo
Marinating time 1 week
Pierce the chipotle chilies with a paring knife, place in a medium-size saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes until tender. Drain.
Remove the seeds and stems from the ancho chilies and place in a small saucepan with 200 ml water. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes until soft. Transfer the chilies and water to a blender with the tomato, garlic, allspice, thyme, oregano, peppercorns and two of the softened chipotle chilies. Blend until very smooth. Reserve.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for 3–4 mins until softened. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the reserved puree. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes until the mixture starts to thicken. Add the vinegar, salt, sugar, chipotle chilies and 100 ml water. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.
While still warm, spoon the mixture into sterilized jars. Leave the chilies for at least one week for the flavors to develop. Refrigerated, these chilies will keep for at least 12 months.
• In Australia, chipotle chili typically refers to chipotle meco. Mora chilies can be very difficult to source.
• Chipotle and ancho chilies are available from Mexican grocers and specialist spice suppliers.
• Piloncillo, also known as panela, is a type of unrefined, brown cane sugar. If unavailable, substitute brown sugar.