FOOD & DRINK
08/06/2015 01:20 pm ET Updated Aug 07, 2015

What The Heck Is A Chipotle, Anyway?

Besides hot and delicious.

Maybe you've seen a chipotle pepper, maybe you've even cooked with one. These days, we're willing to bet you've said the word at least once in your life (especially if you're the guy who ate at Chipotle every day for 165 days in a row).

But if you're anything like us and are obsessed with its smoky spice, you might still be surprised to learn exactly what a chipotle pepper is.

lvenks via Getty Images

A chipotle pepper is merely a smoked, dried jalapeño. That's it. 

More commonly made from red jalapeños, chipotles date as far back as the Aztecs, who smoked peppers as a preservative measure because the jalapeño's thick flesh would rot before completely air drying. It's believed chipotle comes from the Nahuatl word, "chilpotle," which means "smoked chili pepper." 

You might recognize chipotles at the market jarred in adobo sauce, a blend of other peppers, spices, tomatoes and vinegar (and absolutely delicious when rubbed onto steak).

They're a venerable and versatile ingredient to keep in your spice arsenal as they add depth and a kick to meats, as well as a savor to sweets.

Of course, you can buy chipotles pre-dried -- look for peppers that bend slightly and aren't brittle -- but it's more fun to buy jalapeños and smoke them yourself at home.

When you're ready to use them, rehydrate them in hot water for 20 minutes, as shown in the video below from Gourmet magazine:

Also on HuffPost:

PHOTO GALLERY
Our Favorite Comfort Foods
CONVERSATIONS