Sunday, January 25, 2009

recipe: adobo

chicken adobo a la leah

inspired by mike's post, i got a craving for a good downhome filipino meal of adobo chicken tonight. and while he challenged his readers to an adobo throwdown, the reality is, there will be no winner because each family's adobo is slightly different, per the different regions of the philippines and quirks of each cook - in my case, my lola [grandmother].

my grandmother, mama, made the BEST adobo ever. however, there was no formal recipe passed down. all i remember is that it was heavy on the garlic, and i remember it was drier than most adobos -- most have a sauce -- an "au jus" if you will. after talking about it to my mom a long time ago, she mentioned that mama maybe used a cooking method of 'pinapasa' which literally means, 'to be squeezed'. i have yet to find a recipe to use this method but from what i understand, mama would take the chicken out after simmering and re-sear it with more garlic. needless to say, it was yummy.

i'm kinda 'a throw things in a pot and edit to taste' kinda cook. so here's my semi-just-now-made-up "recipe" for adobo (sans the extra pinapasa step). my recipe is for a smaller portion for 2-3 servings.
  • 1.5 lbs of chicken wings, drumsticks or thighs (you can use breast, but it will probably be drier)
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic depending on size
  • 1/6 cup of soy sauce
  • 1/6 cup of distilled vinegar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon-ish of whole peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon-ish of sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. salt and pepper the chicken - don't be too generous - you'll be adding soy and peppercorn later.
  2. sear chicken in a hot pan with just a drizzle of oil. once the fat from the chicken renders, you'll have more than enough fat to keep the chicken from sticking. in fact, you'll have to drain the pain later on.
  3. drain pan but leave about 1 tablespoon of fat in the pan.
  4. lower heat to medium and add garlic. saute garlic for 1 minute.
  5. splash a little of the soy sauce and vinegar in pan and scrape with a wooden spoon to de-glaze.
  6. add soy sauce, vinegar, peppercorns, and bay leaf. simmer, add sugar, mix, then add chicken.
  7. simmer on low for 40 minutes, turning chicken periodically to ensure chicken cooks on all sides.
  8. taste the sauce. add salt and pepper to taste.
  9. serve over rice. if you're not down with eating whole peppercorns, make sure to pick them out!

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