Cook the Book

Smoky Chipotle in Adobo from 'Mastering Fermentation'

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This spicy, smoky condiment is especially good when used to flavor braised pork shoulder. [Photograph: Ed Anderson]

Chipotles in adobo are one of those pantry staples that I always have around the house, but it never would have crossed my mind to make them myself. I definitely wouldn't have thought to ferment them. Mary Karlin's recipe in Mastering Fermentation does just that. Letting the adobo mixture ferment overnight helps to mellow the bite from the chiles and adds an enigmatic tang to the sauce not present in the store-bought product. The whole process is fairly involved, but you can cut down on the work a bit by using dried chipotles (rehydrate them before blending) instead of smoking your own peppers.

Why I picked this recipe: I use chipotles in adobo in a lot of my cooking, so it was about time I made a batch myself.

What worked: The complexity of the fermented adobo sauce here can't be beat. If it weren't so spicy, I would eat it with a spoon.

What didn't: My blender really struggled with this thick sauce. Next time, I'll use a food processor.

Suggested tweaks: If you're going to use dried chiles, it is easier to remove the stems and seeds before re-constituting them in hot water. You'll want to reserve some of this liquid to mix into the adobo sauce in the blender. Once you've made the chipotles, you can use them to braise pork (as Karlin demonstrates in the photo), in chili, or to liven up simple sautéed vegetables.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Mastering Fermentation to give away this week.

About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American, KQED's Bay Area BitesBerkeleyside NOSH. Follow her @KateHWiliams.

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