Tuesday 16 July 2013

Chicken Adobo

It’s due time for some Filipino action on the blog. Chicken adobo is one of the Philippines’ signature dishes. Not only is it simple to make, but it only needs few ingredients to put together. The sauce is made up of mostly vinegar and soy sauce. I can hear some of you already, “Ew, vinegar? That sounds gross!”.  Vinegar does have a very intense sourness, but that intensity is completely cooked away here. The flavour is pleasant and tangy. I really encourage you to give this a try. Give the sauce a taste before you serve. If it’s too sour for your liking you can always counteract it with some honey or sugar, though this is not traditional.

The vinegar is a vital part of the recipe because not only is it responsible for much of the flavour, but it tenderizes the meat. You simply must prepare this with bone-in chicken parts. Not only will the bones bring even more flavour (and even cooking) but you can enjoy that moist meat-falling-off-the-bone experience that is the soul of chicken adobo. This is an exciting and lip-smacking way to eat chicken. Y


4 chicken legs
4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp oil for frying
½ cup apple cider or white vinegar
¼ cup soy sauce
1 bay leaf
1 Thai red chili, finely chopped (optional)

Ideally this recipe will make four servings, though you’ll want eight pieces of chicken. That way each serving will have a drumstick and a thigh. To separate the two, look for the line of fat that divides them. Use that line of fat as a guide and use a sharp knife to slice them apart. Use several shallow cuts rather than one vigorous slice. You’ll have much more control that way. The joint should easily show itself and you just cut through that. There will be little resistance. Otherwise, you are trying to cut through bone and that’s just silly. When you have your eight pieces of chicken, pat them dry with paper towel and season with pepper. You won't need any salt because there is enough in the soy sauce for the whole dish.  

In a pot or dutch oven, heat the oil at medium-high. Brown the pieces of chicken in two batches to avoid crowding. Each batch should take about six minutes. All you want to do is sear the entire surface area of the chicken and get a nice golden brown colour. Do not cook the chicken completely. Once browned, set aside on a plate.

Remove the excess fat from the pot leaving a tablespoon or so. You can do this by carefully pouring it out or mopping up with paper towel and a pair of tongs. Add the garlic and sautée until fragrant and slightly golden.

Add the chicken (and any juice that accumulated on the plate), vinegar, soy sauce, chili and bay leaf. Give the pot a stir. Bring the liquid to a quick bowl, reduce to a simmer and cover with a lid. Leave to cook for 15 minutes with the lid on.

Remove the lid. Continue to cook with the lid off, turning the chicken occasionally, until the sauce reduces and coats the chicken. I recommend turning the heat back up to medium high for this part. This can take up to 10 or 15 additional minutes. Use your eyes as your guide. You want to keep the sauce at a simmer while the flavours concentrate and it thickens up. You want just enough sauce to glaze and coat all of the chicken. It should not be runny.

When the sauce has thickened to your liking, serve right away with some rice. Coconut rice would be nice with this too. For colour and freshness, I threw on thinly sliced scallions, cilantro and purple basil. Be sure to pour any leftover sauce over the chicken before serving. Believe me, it is all that.  

That’s all there is to it. It’s certainly not a daunting recipe and the finished product is so damn good.  Who wouldn’t love moist, savoury, salty, tangy, sticky chicken? We eat a lot of chicken here in North America. It’s a bland protein if not prepared properly but there is so much you can do with it. If you find yourself in a rut and looking for something new to do with chicken, this is your ticket. 

Enjoy and feel free to let me know how it works out. Until then, happy cooking and see you again soon,


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