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Home-Smoked Chipotle Chiles

1 1/4 pounds red-ripe jalapeno chiles, with stems
1/2 cup dried red new mexico chile puree or commercial chile paste
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
1 clove fresh garlic, peeled and crushed
1/4 teaspoon salt

Prepare a smoker according to the manufacturer's directions, using
the wood Chunks or logs of fragrant hardwood, preferably a combination
of oak and mesquite and achieving a steady temperature of 275 to
300 degrees F. Place the chiles directly on the smoker rack (or
use a shallow disposable foil pan) at the cooler end of the smoking
chamber or on the upper rack if your smoker has one. Lower the
cover and smoke the chiles for 2 1/2 hours, or until they are soft,
brown, and slightly shriveled.

Remove the chipotles from the smoker. In a medium nonreactive
saucepan, combine them with the chile puree, water, tomato paste,
vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, and salt. Set over medium heat and
bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring once or twice, until the sauce
is very thick, about 15 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Transfer the chipotles to a covered storage container and refrigerate
for at least 24 hours before using. They can be refrigerated for
up to 2 weeks or frozen for up to 2 months.

UNSAUCED DRIED CHIPOTLES: After removing the chiles from the smoker,
place them on a rack and leave them, loosely covered, at room
temperature, until crisp, light, and dry, 1 to 2 weeks, depending
on the humidity. Store airtight at room temperature.

NOTES: Green jalapenos can be used, but red ones are more beautiful
and have a deeper, sweeter flavor. Grow your own, or in the store,
select chiles that have begin to turn red; they will eventually
ripen. (Those picked without any red at all in their peels will
always remain green.)


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