Barefoot in the Kitchen: Mom’s Chicken Adobo
One of my favorite dishes to make is adobo, specifically based on my mom’s recipe. Chicken adobo is one of my all-time favorite comfort foods. I loved it so much that my mom used to freeze it in plastic containers and pack it in her suitcase for her monthly visits, just so we could enjoy it once she landed. Sigh. Living so far from my mom makes me not only homesick for her, but craving comfort foods. Anyway, I digress…
What’s so amazing about this dish? Well, I would dish (pun intended) eloquently about the history of it, but frankly, I had to google it myself. Heck, when you’re a hungry, starvin’ Marvin, you really don’t care WHY Filipino adobo is NOTHING like Spanish adobo. But if you’re really interested in the WHY and HOW it came to be, another cool blogger posted recently about it here. It’s even been made by one White House chef for the Philippine Ambassador!
Here’s my really simple take on Mom’s Adobo: Filipino style adobo is all about finding the right balance between soy sauce and vinegar. It’s a little sour (vinegar), salty (soy sauce) and sometimes with a little spice & bite (the other ingredients). Some folks like it a bit dry, others prefer a lot of sauce. Think of it as the Filipino’s answer to Southern BBQ. My own family (Buffalo-born, Alabama-bred hubby & our mestiza daughter) prefers the saucy latter. With a bit of sticky white rice, it’s the perfect year-round comfort food in our home. My daughter definitely prefers this over mac-and-cheese! Now if I could only get her to eat certain other foods (green & leafy veggies for starters), then life would be smashing. I’ll keep working on it with little Bella. In the meantime, here’s today’s BiK, step by step. If you prefer a less saucy dish or want to try it in a crock pot, follow the notes at the end.
- 10″ covered saute pan (deep enough for your meat + liquid ingredients) or a covered stockpot
- Optional: 2-5 qt crock pot
- Mixing bowl & spoon or wisk
- Tongs, wooden spatula or spoon
- 2 Tbsp cooking oil (I prefer olive or canola oil)
- 4 cloves garlic, diced & divided in half.
- kosher salt (optional)
- 1-1/2 to 2 lbs. chicken pieces (I used chicken legs here, but Mom uses a whole fryer, chopped up into unrecognizable chunks of meat) See note 1
- 2/3 cup soy sauce (Tamari gluten-free soy sauce, Kikkoman regular or whatever you can get your hands on. I’ve even used Bragg Liquid Aminos in this recipe & my mom even loved it!)
- 2/3 cup vinegar (regular white vinegar or apple cider vinegar works nicely)
- 1 cup water (adjust amount depending on how salty or sour you want)
- 3-5 bay leaves, dried
- 1 Tbsp whole peppercorns
- 1 Tbsp sugar (optional)
- Heat pan over low to medium heat. Add 2 Tbsp cooking oil to the warm pan.
- Increase heat to medium to medium-high. Saute 2 cloves diced garlic until nicely browned.
- Add your chicken pieces to browned garlic. Optional step: salt your chicken pieces before sautéing. See note 2.
- When your chicken pieces are a bit brown on the outside, add the rest of the ingredients to the pan. You can add them directly into the pan, one by one, stirring as you go along, or if you’re like me, mix them up in a big mixing bowl first and pour the whole lot into the pan. If you would like a more saucy dish, like enough to moisten your rice with yummy goodness, ensure the liquid ingredients fill up the pan to cover at least halfway up the meat.
- Bring to a boil, uncovered.
- Cover and lower heat to low-medium settings. Simmer, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 180°F.
- Remove the bay leaves before serving. Serve with white rice. (Find my stove top white rice recipe here)
- Dinner is served!
- Note 1: My dad always said that pork adobo was the original adobo, but he preferred chicken. I’ve cooked both pork and beef versions and always preferred chicken. Also, pork may require some additional tenderizing. You judge.
- Note 2: Sauteing bone-in pieces can decrease the total cooking time, especially when you consider how long it takes to boil & then simmer til fully cooked.
- Note 3: For less sauce and a more “dry” adobo without getting cardboard meat in the end, I’ve found there are a couple of ways to do this.
- One way is to boil down the sauce, without adjusting any of the liquid amounts. Keep the cover off while simmering too and that helps. Do keep a close eye on your pan though as you don’t want your meat to get too dry.
- Another way is to simply cut down on the liquid ingredients. Start by cutting a third of the amount before boiling. If you do it this way, you may want to sauté/fry the chicken pieces until they are very nearly done and then continue as above.
- Finally, for less sauce in your final presentation, just remove the sauce from the serving dish. Voila, less sauce.
- Note 4: Crock pot or not to crock pot? (also known as slow cooking) I’m a huge fan of easy peasy meals, especially during busy times. This is an awesome dish to double or triple up and freeze the leftovers. This is where the crock pot is handy. If you don’t mind meat falling off the bone, then crock pot away. The key to prevent freezer burn while freezing is to make sure you have enough liquid coating your meat pieces. I use freezer containers although freezer bags work just as well. I don’t recommend keeping them more than 2-3 months, although some online searches say 4-6 months is good for cooked chicken.
- Note 5: How to make it “healthier”? There’s a bit of fat in this dish if you have “skin on” chicken pieces. Either remove the skin first (easier) or chill/freeze the dish and remove the layer of fat that congeals on top (more time-consuming, but not too hard).
- Perfect beverage accompaniment (besides ice-cold water): a nice beer (San Miguel from the Philippines comes to mind) or a slightly sweet rosé or red wine. You could even pair it with a sweet white (maybe a French Riesling). Hubby paired it tonight with a good Oktoberfest brew from German brewer Hacker-Pschorr .
- Chicken and Pork Adobo (adobojourney.wordpress.com)
- Chicken Adobo (yourrecipe101.wordpress.com)
- Adobo Chicken- A Filipino Classic (aroundtheworldin365.wordpress.com)
- Barefoot in the Kitchen: Slow Cooker Korean Short Ribs, Wilted Spinach & Stovetop Filipino style rice (globalfamilytreks.com)
- Homemade Filipino Food (katrinalimluc.wordpress.com)
- Chicken Adobo (miguelitoskitchen.wordpress.com)