This recipe is from Lupe Romero Vidal, owner of a lovely, 300-year-old hacienda in Hidalgo, Mexico. She uses extra-smoky chipotles (smoked dried jalapeño chiles) from the Huasteca region called "secos rayados," for the white stripes that streak them, but they're very rare. Chipotles moritas, easy to find in the U.S. at Latino markets and online, are wonderful too. The pickling liquid makes a great smoky-sweet hot sauce.
10 morita chipotle chiles* (about 1 1/4 oz.), stems trimmed to 1/2 in.
1/4 cup firmly packed grated piloncillo (Mexican-style brown sugar)*
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced lengthwise
1 large sprig fresh thyme
1 dried bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano*
5 black peppercorns
1 1/2 cups distilled white vinegar
About 1 cup thinly sliced rings from a white onion, cut crosswise
How to Make It
Put chiles in a medium pot and add 1 1/2 qts. water. Soak 24 hours.
With a slotted spoon, transfer chiles to a 1-qt. glass jar. Boil liquid in pot over high heat, uncovered, until reduced to 1 cup, about 30 minutes. Add piloncillo and salt and stir to dissolve. Stir in vinegar.
Pour liquid over chiles. Add remaining ingredients and chill at least 2 weeks.
Serve chiles in a dish and the liquid separately, as a hot sauce.
*Find morita chipotle chiles in Mexican grocery stores. Piloncillo comes in a hard cone and is available at Mexican grocery stores and many supermarkets; grate on the fine holes of a box grater. (For granulated piloncillo, visit ranchogordo.com). Find Mexican oregano in Mexican markets and many supermarkets.
Make ahead: Up to 3 months, chilled.
Nutritional analysis is per chile, with 2 tbsp. liquid.