These moments occur in every marriage.
“We have to talk,” I began.
Suzen paused, looked in my face, and realized I was serious. “What?” was her reply.
“Something is not as good as we thought,” I began. Brilliant way to start this off. She clenched her hands.
“It’s okay,” I tried to reassure her. “I still love you.”
“There’s something else,” I said.
“Someone else?” she quivered.
“No, something. The chipotle thing.”
For some reason she got very mad at me.
A few years ago, we were eating artichokes and just before serving, Suzen had frowned. She did not want mayo and was tired of butter as the dipping medium. Her face was staring into an open refrigerator. “Ah ha,” she announced, pulling out the mayo still but also our plastic container devoted to chipotles. Once a container has been “stained” with adobo, you really need to consider it married.
And so, we began our chipotle-mayo life. Mostly mayo, with some adobo sauce and diced chipotle. How much do we use? It depends on our heat addiction for the day. It’s basically mayo, colored to a light red. And on artichokes, I think it’s divine. I was so proud of Suzen for creating it.
And then, I read the new Virgil’s Barbecue Road Trip Cookbook by Neal Corman with his Texas Chili with Chipotle Cream. The recipe there, a fascinating one, is below and it’s quite a distance up the culinary landscape from Suzi’s. And then, to check, I googled “chipotle cream” only to discover that:
- Suzen is not the discoverer of this recipe
- Hundreds of variations exist
- Here’s an endlessly fun way to use up those leftover chipotles
What do these other recipes do differently? They use more ingredients to achieve richer flavors and textures. Mayo may still be used, but there is some other “dairy” component: yogurt, sour cream, heavy cream, cream cheese and — in Virgil’s case — goat cheese. You’ll find recipes with lime and lemon juice as well as zest. Dashes of salt or sugar are suggested in different recipes.
What can you learn from all these ideas? How do you proceed? Basically, for a ½ cup of dairy, use 1-2 teaspoons of citrus juice, the zest of a single lime or small lemon, and perhaps a teaspoon of sugar to mediate the heat. How much heat? For that ½ cup of dairy, recipes vary from a meager 1 teaspoon of chipotle to a burning 2 tablespoons of heat. That’s a 6 to 1 ratio, so there is generous space here for you to achieve the fire level that you want.
Is your mouth lined with asbestos? You can do even more chipotle or just the adobo sauce, itself a chili combination. How are you using this chipotle cream: for those artichokes, as a garnish on top of chile as in Virgil’s case, as a replacement for mayo in roast beef sandwiches, … You may well find yourself using different proportions depending on the day’s culinary mission.
Here’s the recipe from Virgil’s. It’s the only one I found using goat cheese and I can see substituting cream cheese, particularly if bagels are being targeted. At Virgil’s, this cream is used on top of a hearty and hot chili. This recipe is cut with a cup of heavy cream, so it is not goat cheese stiff, but you could use less cream, have a stiffer mixture, and litererally let the cream melt into the chili — my idea and not what they do at Virgil's.
Preparation of all the cream ideas I saw is pretty simple: process most of the ingredients in a blender then add any final seasonings.
Oh, Suzi is no longer mad at me. She is testing different goat cheese. The only counseling we need is on the herb contents.
Virgil’s Chipotle Cream
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
- 10 ½ ounces goat cheese
- 2 tablespoons pureed chipotle in adobo sauce
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
- Juice of ½ lemon
- Juice of 2 limes
- Zest of ½ lime
Place all the ingredients except the lime zest in a blender. Process until smooth.
Remove to a bowl and add the zest. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
Source: Virgil’s Barbecue Road Trip Cookbook
Photo Information Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/4 for 1/40th second at ISO‑500