Saturday, April 3, 2010

Chicken Adobo

My first experience with Chicken Adobo in years occurred at the cooking class I took with King Phojanakong in February.  Now that Chicken Adobo made its way back on my culinary radar I couldn't wait to make it at home.  This evening Alex and I finally had the chance.  I picked up a whole chicken from the grocery store the other day and it was happily waiting for me in the refrigerator when I returned home from running errands this afternoon.  All we had to do was de-bone the chicken, and then start braising it in a mixture of soy, vinegar, coconut milk, and various other spices.  And then we went ahead and made homemade chicken stock with the remaining carcass.  This was a day of two firsts for us - first deboning the whole chicken, and then making homemade chicken stock from the bones.

From what I understand about Chicken Adobo, there is no one recipe.  I looked over several different recipes, including the recipe from The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook: Homecooking from Asian American Kitchens by Pat Tanumihardja.  Many of the recipes, including this one, included the same key ingredients (vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves, and water), but changed the proportions and the cooking instructions to some degree, and then added other ingredients to suit myself, including coconut milk and dried Thai chilis.

We only served the white meat tonight because I am planning on making some quasi-Filipino or Indonesian garlic fried rice later in the week with the leftover dark meat and Chinese sausage.  I can't wait to try the dark meat, because the white meat was delicious, if a little dry.  We removed the breasts from the bone this time, but the next time we make this I plan on keeping the breasts on the bone to retain more moisture.  Even though the breasts were a little dry, the adobo sauce was fantastic - faintly spicy, and incredibly savory.  I couldn't taste the coconut milk, but seeing as I only added 1/2 of a cup, that is no surprise.  Honestly, I didn't miss the taste of the coconut milk at all.  The scallions provided some freshness to contrast with the intense flavors of the adobo sauce.  The rice soaks up all of that wonderful sauce and becomes just as delicious as the chicken itself.  The next time we try it, I might go ahead and use pork for fun.  We will have to increase the braising time, but who doesn't love braised pork shoulder?

Recipe after the jump!

Chicken Adobo

1 whole chicken (approximately 3 lbs.), cut into pieces with skin left on
3/4 cup soy sauce
1 cup water
1 cup rice vineger (or white distilled vinegar)
1/2 cup coconut milk
8 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
5 dried bay leaves
2 whole dried Thai chilis
4 scallions, green and white parts, chopped

Combine soy sauce, water, vinegar, coconut milk, garlic, peppercorns, bay leaves, chilis, and chicken in  a large Dutch oven.  Allow to stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.  Chicken should be fully submerged in braising liquid.  If not, add water until chicken is fully submerged.

Bring mixture to a boil.  Cover, lower heat, and simmer chicken for 40 minutes, until tender.  Chicken should be tender, but retain some texture to it and should still be attached to the bone.  If you simmer for more than 45 minutes, the chicken could turn mushy and will begin to fall off the bone in chunks.  Once chicken is done, remove it from the pot with tongs and place it on a plate.  Turn the heat on the braising liquid up to high to reduce.

Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat.  Add 2 tbsp vegetable oil, or other high heat cooking oil.  Once oil is hot, but not smoking, add chicken pieces, skin-side down.  Fry each piece for roughly 1-2 minutes, or until the skin turns golden-brown and becomes crispy.

Plate chicken on a bed of steamed rice.  Drizzle with reduced sauce and sprinkle with scallions.  Serve immediately.

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