CHIPOTLE MORITA PEPPER
Dried Chipotle Morita Pepper is approximately three to five centimeters long and has a soft shiny skin that ranges from dark red to brown. The mild smoking process they are exposed to maintains their subtle fruity characteristic while enhancing a rich tobacco and chocolaty aroma.
Dried Chipotle Morita peppers are a variety of Capsicum annum that are almost synonymous with chipotles. They are a red-ripe jalapeno pepper that has been smoked, but the main difference is that dried Chipotle Morita pepper is smoked for less time, leaving it softer and retaining a modest fruity flavor. They are sometimes called Blackberry chile, Chipotle Colorado, Mora chile, or Black Dash red chile.
The chilies are then lightly toasted over an open flame or a flat grill top, reconstituted in water and added to dishes to add a medium-level of heat and a desired smokey flavor that just screams Tex-Mex barbeque. Indeed, no barbecue sauce is complete without a Morita.
Dried Chipotle Morita peppers contain iron, thiamine, niacin, magnesium, riboflavin, and vitamins A, B and C. Chiles are cholesterol-free, saturated fat-free, low calorie, low sodium, and high in fiber.
Pronounced “chi-POHT-lay” Chipotle peppers are indigenous to Mexico and they’ve become almost synonymous in this country with our fairly recent infatuation with “chiles”. Chiles immediately bring to mind their heat, but many chiles may also be a bit mild while adding a deliciously subtle flavor to many dishes when used in correct amounts. Chipotles are actually fully ripened and then smoked dried jalapenos (Capsicum annuum).
For each pound of dried Chipotles, it started out as 10 pounds of fresh jalapeno peppers. The end result is a dark brown to black colored, wrinkled pepper.
More than One Type of Chipotle
A true chile head knows that not all Chipotles are created equal. There are actually two types of Chipotle chiles found in the US. The more common is the Chipotle “Morita” and the harder to find (and the one that serious chile lovers believe is better quality) smoked jalapeno that’s called the Chipotle “Meco”.
The more common variety of smoked jalapenos is usually referred to as just “chipotle chiles”. This chile is typically the variety known as Chipotle “Morita” which translates to “little blackberry” in Spanish. Both the “Meco” and the “Morita” are smoked jalapenos.
There are some not so subtle differences between the two – the “Morita” style jalapeno is harvested when it is still green, while the “Meco” variety is harvested when the jalapeno has fully ripened to a rich red color. The “Meco” tends to be larger than the “Morita” and is also smoked about twice as long. This makes them less leathery and pliable than the “Morita.” But, this does give the Meco a smokier, more intensely rich flavor than the “Morita”. Chipotle Morita chiles are produced in Northern Mexico, while the Chipotle Mecos are typically grown in Central and Southern Mexico.
Chipotles date back to before the Aztec civilization and originated in the region of Mexico that today is northern Mexico City. While historians believe that the Aztecs first smoked jalapeno peppers because the fleshy, thick jalapeno was difficult to dry and tended to rot.
This “smoke drying” process was initially used for drying meats but the Aztecs found that smoking allowed the chilies to be stored for a long period of time.
Where to Use
The smoky flavor profile of dried Morita chile peppers makes them perfectly interchangeable with chipotles. They are the preferred chile for making salsa Seca, or “dry salsa”, a condiment similar to gremolata. Combine fried peanuts, sesame seeds and garlic with the toasted dried Moritas and season with salt and lime. The smoky and nutty salsa compliments rich fatty meats, especially those that have been braised and benefit from the added textural element.
How to Prepare
Your recipe may call for the chipotle chiles to be lightly toasted (or roasted) and this really brings out the flavor in them. We have also had some recipes calling for them to be lightly fried in oil or even burnt black.
You can rehydrate them by soaking in hot water for about 20 minutes.
Flavor Profile and Heat Level
These chiles have a smoky, somewhat sweet chocolaty aroma and flavor. And these whole Chipotle Morita pepper are considered a medium heat chile and come it at 5,000 – 10,000 SHU (Scoville Heat Units).
For a more subtle heat, you can remove the seeds and stems prior to using.
The Chipotle Morita Chile is a moderately hot and unique ingredient that is commonly used in Southwestern cuisine for its smoky flavor. Some applications include barbecue ribs, cornbread, enchilada sauce, chili, stew, or any meat.
This particular Chipotle is considered a Chipotle “Morita” Pepper. We also carry a Chipotle “Meco” Chile which is smoked for a long time the “Morita” and is generally considered to be of a slightly higher quality chile by serious chileheads.
We also carry a variety of other dried peppers – Habanero Chiles, Ancho Chiles, Pasilla Chiles, Birdseye Chiles, Guajillo Chiles, Aji Amarillo Chiles, Cascabel Chiles, California Chiles, New Mexico Chiles and the world’s second hottest pepper the Ghost Chile.
We also offer Chipotle Powder and Chipotle Flakes. And if you are partial to dry rubs for the grill, then be sure to check out our top selling Honey Chipotle Rub.
Serious Salsa: Chile Chipotle Morita Pepper Salsa Recipe
Now, you might think bringing salsa to a barbecue seems out of place. But this wasn’t just any barbecue–we were going to be serving barbacoa, which in Texas means slow-smoked cow head. (I could go into the details on how to smoke a cow’s head, but we’re here to talk about salsas, so we’ll save that discussion for another time and place.)
Take the chipotle Morita pepper and cook them in a hot dry cast-iron skillet until they inflate and start to pop a little (about two minutes). Into the cast-iron skillet, pour water over the chiles and allow them to soften and become plumper, which will take about half an hour.
Meanwhile, stir the whole tomatillos in another skillet until they blister and black spots appear. Immediately transfer them to a blender. Place the garlic, moritas and a pinch of salt in the blender, and puree until smooth. It will be a deep red color with lots of seeds.
Note: You can find dried moritas at most Mexican grocery stores. If you are unable to find them, you can use chipotle chiles. If the chipotles are dry, follow the same instructions as for the moritas. But if they are canned and packed in adobo sauce, then forgo the frying and re-hydrating and just add them to the blender along with the other ingredients.