Pay no attention to the many shelves of faux salsas (Blueberry-pineapple? Really?) and shove aside all those cans of low-fat, low-sodium, no-flavor refried beans.
For this week’s underappreciated ingredient, you will need to dig a bit deeper into your grocer’s Hispanic section. Your goal? Mexico’s gift to high-flavor cooking: chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.
Typically sold in 7-ounce cans, these not entirely attractive (truth is, they look a bit prune-like) peppers pack gobs of smoky, chocolatey, slightly sweet piquancy.
First, the basics. Chipotles are really just jalapeno peppers that have been dried and smoked. In the U.S., they most often are sold canned in adobo sauce, a smooth tomato-vinegar blend spiked with garlic, onion and various spices.
The result is that you essentially get two ingredients in each can: peppers and sauce. The peppers marinate in the adobo, taking on its sweet tang. Meanwhile, the sauce absorbs some of the peppers’ heat.