Chipotle peppers have made quite a name for themselves over the last few decades or so. The eponymous restaurant chain has obviously spread the name a bit, but even before it, these little smokey chiles began popping up all over the place in recipes. Have you ever had Subway’s chipotle mayo? Do so. It kicks ass.
Over ten years ago, I remember reading recipes in Bon Appetit that called for “canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.” So I bought a can and looked/ marveled at it for some time, wondering what to do with it. Until then, I thought that the “chipotle” was the area that everyone else calls the “taint” on the human body. I guess I was out of the loop on this. Personally, I like chipotle better, you know: it imparts more of a spicy flavor profile, if you catch my drift. The taint, well, ’tain’t much soul there.
In any case, the first time I used these in a recipe, it was for enchiladas or something of the like, back in the early days of my learning to cook. I remember the distinct smoky aroma as I chopped them up and I did notice a lot of seeds. “Bah,” said I, “seeds will give it more flavor. These can’t possibly be spicy.” Wrong. I can handle spice, but my wife, then my girlfriend/ roommate, looked as though her alabaster skin had been assaulted by scrub pads. Between trying to take bites and wiping her brow, she indicated that she could go on no further. While the enchiladas were great (lie), the chipotle spice had done her in, she said. I noted mentally to remove seeds from chiles and peppers thenceforward.
I posted a Spanish rice recipe a while back (https://dinnerwithjonny.com/2013/01/18/idiot-proof-spanish-rice/), and I make this regularly. But as often happens, I started thinking. I wanted some variation on it. I looked in the pantry, saw that can o’ chipotle peppers, and my mental gears started cranking noisily, like a rickety North Korean space shuttle. The recipe below is what emerged, and it blew our socks off. Like my other rice recipe, this is simple to make and quite healthful, too.
Remember, remove the seeds from the peppers as you mince them. It’s a messy job, but the appearance of the peppers isn’t important because they blend in with everything else.
Chipotle Spanish Rice
Makes about 8 servings
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. oil
1 tsp. chili powder
2 14 oz. cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup water
1 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, seeds removed and peppers minced, reserving some the sauce
3/4 cup uncooked, washed rice
1 cup frozen green peas, somewhat defrosted or not (not that important), or fresh, if you have them.
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 cup black olives, sliced
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium- high heat and cook the onion until tender, about 6 minutes. Add in the minced garlic during the last minute so as not to burn it. Add the chili powder and cook another minute.
Next, stir in the undrained tomatoes, rice, water, chipotle peppers, peas, salt, and pepper. Add in a tablespoon or so of the reserved adobo sauce, too. This is key to the overall flavor. Get this boiling. Cover, reduce the heat, and simmer it 20 to 25 minutes, or until the rice is cooked through and the liquid it absorbed.
(Note: A good trick for checking if the liquid is absorbed is to run a wooden spoon along the bottom of the pan. If the spoon leaves a path without juice filtering onto it, you’ve nailed it.)
Add in most of the black olive slices and stir. Check for salt and pepper and adjust, if needs be. Transfer it to a serving dish and top with the remaining black olives. You’ll get this:
‘Tis easy to make and ’tain’t bad for you or your chipotle. 3/4 cup of this is a Weight Watchers 3 on the old system (Points Plus and 360° can fuck off to an alarming depth). Top with some grilled chicken, and you have a meal unto itself.
Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.
©Jon Marino 2013