Sometimes when I'm at work, I'll have a really great idea for a blog post that is completely unrelated to work. The sentences start forming in my head, and I think to myself, "Man, I should really be writing this down," but instead, I have to write about something more boring, like work. And then I get home and sit down to write a blog post, and I've completely forgotten what I wanted to write about.
So it goes with this chicken adobo. I knew exactly what I wanted to write for this chicken adobo post last week, sometime around two in the afternoon, when I was sitting at my desk staring at a spreadsheet and dreaming about dinner. And now, I just can't remember. I should really write these things down.
I'm the same way with recipes. I've been getting better about following recipes more precisely, ever since I started counting calories and cooking lighter foods. But then there are those recipes that just kind of float around in the back of my head, with no real measurements or times, just eyeball-and-taste methods that always seem to work out OK in the end. And I'm left with a dish I've made a million times before, with no real way to share it with you because I never thought to pay attention to how much onion I actually chopped, and how much soy sauce was in that "dash," and how long it took to taste just right. Until now.
Today, I present you with my family's chicken adobo recipe. I've written about chicken adobo here before, and how I grew up with the smell of chicken adobo in the kitchen, and how learning to make it in college was like bringing my mother's kitchen to my own. It's still like that. The rich aroma of chicken simmering slowly in soy sauce, garlic, and vinegar will always mean "home" to me.
One of my favorite things about this recipe, besides the smell and of course, the taste, is that it's just about the easiest dish to make. It's a simple chicken and rice dish, made with bone-in chicken pieces, although for a long time, I used to make it only with boneless, skinless chicken breasts simply for convenience's sake. Also, I didn't own a good cleaver, but more on that later. Chicken adobo made solely with boneless, skinless chicken breasts is not real chicken adobo. It's good, but it's not authentic. It'll do in a pinch, but it just doesn't taste the same.
Real chicken adobo requires bone-in chicken pieces. I use chicken drumsticks, whacked in half crosswise with a good cleaver (a wedding gift, yay! no more fake adobo in this kitchen!), exposing the bone marrow to make the broth richer and more flavorful.
Then comes the sauce, which involves equal parts water, vinegar, and soy sauce. That's the beauty of this dish -- as long as you have equal parts of these key ingredients, in addition to plenty of garlic, you really can't screw up the flavor. For four pounds of chicken, I used a cup of each, which was just enough to almost cover the chicken.
A couple of bay leaves, a pinch of whole black peppercorns, and an hour of simmer time, and you'll have tender, fall apart chicken that is sweet and tangy, garlicky and rich. A true Filipino classic.
Filipino Chicken Adobo
Adobo refers to the process of simmering in soy sauce, vinegar, and garlic. Anything can be adobo-ed, including pork, ribs, and even veggies, although I've never tried vegetarian adobo. I prefer chicken adobo. If you don't own a good cleaver to cut the chicken in half, then simply leave the pieces whole. It'll still taste great.
The vinegar helps it keep longer than your usual chicken dish, and is actually better the next day. After it's refrigerated, the broth gets kind of gelatinous, which can look gross but don't be alarmed. Just skim the fat off the top and it'll reheat beautifully.
4 lbs chicken (Any bone-in parts will do, such as thighs or legs. I use drumsticks split in half crosswise and a couple boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced. Sometimes I'll add in boneless thighs, as well.)
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup water
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
6 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
steamed white rice
Throw everything (except for the rice) into a large pot or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and let simmer, covered, for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally. You'll know it's done when the meat begins to separate from the bone. Remove bay leaves and serve over white rice.
This makes a lot of adobo. I made this much and it fed 2 people for three meals. So about 6 servings.