Chipotle Meco Chiles
Chipotle Meco Chiles (pronounced “chuh-powt-lay meh-co”), Capsicum annuum, are also called chipotle meco, meco chipotle, or chile meco.
There are approximately 4 chiles per ounce.
What Are Chipotle Meco Chiles
The harder to find of the chipotle chiles, Chipotle Meco Chiles are mature jalapenos that are left on the plant even longer than those that are picked as red jalapenos and smoked as Chipotle Morita Chiles. This additional time on the plant results in an even deeper red color and as these chiles start losing their moisture they are then harvested to be transformed into "Meco" chipotles. The Chipotle Meco is larger and stiffer than the Chipotle Morita. In its dried form, the Chipotle "Meco" is a dull tan to deep coffee brown in color with a wrinkled, ridged surface. They are usually 2" to 4" long and 1" wide, with a medium thick flesh..
Chipotle comes from the Nahuatl (pronounced "nä-wätl") word chīlpoctli meaning 'smoked chili'.
History of Chipotle Chiles
The ancient civilization of Teotihuacan (pronounced tay-uh-tee-waa-kaan) was the largest city in Mesoamerica and was located north of modern day Mexico City. At its peak more than 200,000 people are thought to have lived there. The original habitants of Teotihuacan (400 BC – 1190 AD) smoked chiles hundreds of years before the Aztecs (1345-1521) did. This "smoke drying" process was initially used for drying meats but they found that smoking allowed the chiles to be stored for a longer period of time. Teotihuacan is the Aztec name for the city, which translates to "Place of the Gods"; the original name has not been deciphered from surviving glyphs, or ancient writing system, that have been found on site during excavations. The Aztecs learned to smoke jalapeno peppers because the fleshy, thick walls of the fresh jalapeno are difficult to dry in the sun and tend to rot.
Jalapeños are named after the town of Xalapa (often spelled as Jalapa) in Véracruz State, although they are no longer commercially grown there. They are also known by the names cuaresmeños, gordo or Lenten chiles. In Veracruz jalapenos are called chiles gordos, or "fat chiles". In Puebla and Oaxaca they may also be called huachinangos, or "red snappers".
Bernardino de Sahagun, a Franciscan friar and missionary priest arrived in New Spain--modern-day Mexico--in 1529. He was a pioneering ethnographer and arrived to conduct a systematic study of the Aztec people and their cultures. He quickly learned the Nahuatl language and spent the next 60 years studying the Aztecs and their way of life. He wrote of a dish he ate in Cholula (modern day Puebla) called teatzin which had a sauce made from blended Chipotle and Pasilla Chiles, and was used to stew Lenten palm flowers and fresh jalapeno chiles.
After the fall of the Aztec Empire, smoked chiles were found mostly in central and southern Mexico markets of Chiapas, Oaxaca, Puebla and Veracruz.
Chipotle Chile Cultivation
Jalapeno plants typically reach a height of 2-1/2' to 3', with a single main stem. These multi-branched plants have light to dark green leaves that measure about 2" wide by 3" long. The flower petals (corollas) are white, contain no spots, and mature into conical and cylindrical pods that are approximately 1-1/2" wide and 2 -3 inches long. Most jalapenos are harvested while still immature and are their familiar green color, a select few are allowed to fully ripen to a deep red color. The full growing period of jalapenos is between 70 and 80 days and under ideal growing conditions each plant will produce between 25 and 35 pods.
In Mexico, they are primarily grown in Oaxaca, the Lower Palaloapan River Valley and northern Veracruz. Jalapeno chiles can be grown in a variety of soil types and climates, although they grow best in semiarid climates.
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 these are either harvested and sold as red jalapenos or are harvested and smoked to become Chipotle Morita Chiles. Jalapeno chiles that are destined to become Meco chiles are left on the plant even past this stage until the chiles start losing their moisture, this the point where they are harvested and smoked dried.
Chipotle Meco Chiles 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 racks 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 drying chile pods. Chipotle chiles are typically smoked using oak or pecan wood.
Where Are Chipotle Meco Chiles From
These Chipotle Meco Chiles are from Mexico.
What Do Chipotle Meco Chiles Taste Like
Smoky with a slightly spicy, grassy fruitiness.
Are Chipotle Meco Chiles Hot
These chiles are considered a medium heat chile and come it at 2,500 to 10,000 SHU (Scoville Heat Units).
What Is the Difference between Chipotle and Morita
While they both come from a ripened jalapeno there are several differences. Chipotle Meco Chiles are left on the plant even longer so they are larger, they are also smoked for twice as long so the smoky flavor is more intense. As far as heat goes there is no real difference as both are considered a medium heat chile and come in at 2,500 - 10,000 SHU. Chipotle Meco Chiles also tend to hold up better to stronger flavors than the Chipotle Morita Chiles do.
The last difference is that Chipotle Meco Chiles are much harder to find in the US as this is the traditional smoked jalapeno that is preferred in Mexico. This means that not as many of these are available for export into the US.
How Do You Use the Chipotle Meco
Chipotle Meco Chiles will add a deep, earthy spiciness to many dishes in Mexican cuisine. They can be rehydrated and diced, rehydrated and pureed, ground into a powder, or chopped into flakes to be added to both savory and sweet dishes. Used in traditional dishes such as bean soup, moles, pimento cheese, tomatillo salsa, fish tacos and grilled flank steak. In Mexico, rehydrated Chipotle Meco Chiles are traditionally stuffed with mild cheese and fried in a famous Puebla region Christmas dish called chile navideño.
Once reconstituted, the Meco Chile's stem and seeds are removed, and the flesh is blended into chile pastes, glazes, marinades, and sauces. These rehydrated peppers can also be incorporated into casseroles, bean dishes, dips, and salsas, or they can be diced and stirred into chilis, soups, and stews. Ground Chipotle Meco powder can be folded into brownie and cake batter for a surprising touch of heat.
To rehydrate your Chipotle Meco Chiles , rinse them off with warm water and then soak in hot water for 10 minutes. Once rehydrated, dice or puree and add to a recipe.
Pairs well with beef, chicken, honey, pork, potatoes, tomatillos, tomatoes, and with annatto, cilantro, cumin, ginger, Mexican oregano, parsley, sage, and tomato powder.
Chipotle Meco Chile Substitution
A good substitute for Chipotle Meco Chiles (2,500 - 10,000 SHU) is either Chipotle Morita (2,500 - 10,000 SHU) or Pasilla de Oaxaca (15,000 - 20,000 SHU). Pasilla de Oaxaca have a comparably smoky flavor, but they are a bit more spicy than the Chipotle Meco, so use this pepper judiciously.
1 whole Chipotle Meco Chile is equal 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of powder.
|Ingredients||Chipotle Meco Chiles|
|Also Called||Chipotle meco, meco chipotle, or chile meco|
|Recommended Uses||Use in traditional dishes such as bean soup, moles, pimento cheese, tomatillo salsa, fish tacos and grilled flank steak|
|Flavor Profile||Smoky with a slightly spicy, grassy fruitiness|
|Scoville Heat Units||2,500 – 10,000|
|Botanical Name||Capsicum annuum|
|How To Store||Airtight container in a cool, dark place|
|Shelf Life||1-2 Years|
|Country of Origin||Mexico|
|Dietary Preferences||Gluten Free, Kosher, Non-GMO|
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Serving Size1 chile, 4g
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value*