Plantain Stuffed Chipotle Chiles in Escabeche

Morita chiles are red, fully mature Chipotles. This gives them a unique, medium – hot smokey flavor which is popular in many Southwestern dishes. These can be added to sauces (including Mole) to add smokey flavor and maintain the red color of the sauces. These peppers are about 2-4 inches in length, 1 inch in width, and have a deep brick reddish brown color. The word Chipotle translated to smoked chile. Consider the Chipotle a 6.5 on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the hottest). Scoville heat units 7,000-25,000.

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2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
3-3/4 cups water
1 Tbsp. plus 1-1/4 tsp. salt
24 large chiles moritas (dried bright red chipotle chiles, preferably soft; 3 oz.)
1 medium carrot, cut into 1/8″ strips
6 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
3 sprigs fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp. dried, crumbled
3 sprigs fresh marjoram or 1/2 tsp. dried, crumbled
2 Turkish bay leaves or 1 California
1/2 cup cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. packed coarsely grated piloncillo (unrefined brown sugar; sometimes called panela) or packed dark brown sugar
4 tsp. finely chopped garlic (3 to 4 cloves)
1 medium red onion, halved lengthwise, then thinly sliced crosswise
2 very ripe large plantains (skin should be predominantly black; 1-1/2 pounds total)


Bring the granulated sugar, 3 cups of water and 1 Tbsp. of salt to a boil in a 1-1/2 to 2 quart saucepan, stirring until the sugar is dissolved, then reduce the heat to a simmer. While the water is coming to a boil, prepare the chiles. Cut a slit from stem to point down 1 side of each chile with some kitchen shears. (Some brands of chiles may be precut.) Add the chiles to the sugar water and simmer for 5 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat and cool the chiles in liquid while making the escabeche and filling.

Add a 1/4 cup of oil into a 10″ heavy skillet over moderately low heat, and cook the carrot slices, covered, stirring occasionally, until they are crisp-tender, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the allspice, thyme, marjoram, bay leaves, vinegar, piloncillo, 2-1/2 tsp. of garlic and the remaining 3/4 cup of water, then bring to a simmer, stirring until the piloncillo is dissolved. Remove from the heat and stir in a 1/2 tsp. of salt and half of an onion.

Transfer the escabeche to a bowl and cool while making the filling and stuffing the chiles.

Cut off the ends of the plantains, then remove and discard the peel and cut them into 1/2″ cubes. Cook the remaining half an onion in the remaining 2 Tbsp. of oil in a cleaned skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until it begins to brown, about 4 minutes. Add the remaining 1-1/2 tsp. of garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the plantains and cook, stirring occasionally and lightly mashing the mixture, until it looks golden brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining 3/4 tsp. of salt and remove the skillet from the heat.

Drain the chiles in a colander and cut off the stems with some kitchen shears and carefully scrape out all the seeds clinging to the seedpod and attached to the veins with your fingers. Press 1 Tbsp. of the plantain mixture into an egg shape, then stuff it into a chile, molding the chile around the stuffing. (If the chile is split in other places, then arrange it around the stuffing and reshape the chile.) Transfer the chile, slit side down, to a shallow 2-quart glass or ceramic serving dish. Stuff the remaining chiles with the remaining filling, and transfer to the serving dish, arranging in 1 layer. Spoon the escabeche over the chiles and marinate, uncovered, at room temperature for 1 hour.

Cooks note: The stuffed chiles can be marinated, covered and chilled, for up to 12 hours. Bring them to room temperature before serving.

Makes 6 (first course) servings.

Recipe from Gourmet Magazine, October 1996.