Chicken Adobo

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This is it, kids. This has to be the last recipe I share from April Bloomfield’s new book, A Girl and Her Pig, or pretty soon I’ll look like that pig slung over her shoulder on the book’s cover (slaughtered for divulging too many cookbook recipes).

If you’ve tried any of the recipes I’ve posted (the porridge, the curry) you know that this book is a keeper. And this particular recipe isn’t just a keeper, it may become a new weeknight staple. Not only is it explosively flavorful, it’s really easy to make.

Chicken Adobo is essentially chicken cooked in vinegar. To make it you brown chicken really well, add aromatics (garlic, ginger, onion), add rice vinegar and soy sauce, return the chicken to the pot, cover it and 45 minutes later you have incredibly tender chicken and a sauce so potent, it’ll burn the fuzz off your lip (assuming you have a fuzzy lip).

Bloomfield is kind in this recipe in that she doesn’t have you peel the garlic; just put two heads worth of unpeeled cloves into a bowl:

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You also don’t have to peel the ginger; just slice 1/2 a cup of it thinly:

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You’ll also want 1/2 a large onion, cut into wedges, 4 fresh bay leaves (or 2 dried), and 10 black peppercorns:

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As for the chicken, the hardest part for beginners will be cutting it up. You want just the legs and thighs (I made the mistake of buying a whole chicken, but I just froze the breast and the backbone and used the wings, thighs and legs as directed) which you then cut into 2-inch pieces. That means cutting through bone–a task that’s much easier if you have a cleaver. I don’t so I used my biggest chef’s knife. Still: I did pretty well.

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You want 2-inch pieces because you expose more surface area and get browner, more delectable bits of chicken in the final dish.

Now the most important step is getting those chicken pieces brown. You heat oil until it’s smoking (or, in my case, almost smoking) and then brown in batches:

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Taking your time with this step is the difference between a mediocre Chicken Adobo and a spectacular Chicken Adobo. The deeper the color on your browned chicken, the deeper the flavor of your finished dish.

Once your chicken’s brown, add those aromatics:

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Cook until the onion’s soft, then return the chicken:

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And add rice vinegar (I used a whole bottle):

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And soy sauce (1/2 cup) [note: if that looks like a lot of soy sauce, that’s because I added the 1/2 a cup to the vinegar already in the measuring cup before adding it all to the pot]:

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Bring to a simmer:

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Cover the pot, lower the heat and cook for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, cook some rice (I used my rice cooker); without rice, you won’t be able to sop up that potent, potent sauce.

So here’s the finished plate:

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For a weeknight meal, you can’t do much better. All of that ginger, all of that garlic, all of that vinegar and soy sauce and chicken combine into something that’s anything but boring. Plus, besides the oil you brown the chicken in, it’s relatively fat free (if you care about such things). Diet food that no one would recognize as diet food.

And so, April Bloomfield, it’s been an honor blogging recipes from your cookbook. I shall continue cooking from you indefinitely, but as for those recipes, people will just have to buy the book to know what I’m cooking.

Recipe: Chicken Adobo

Summary: A dazzling dinner from April Bloomfield’s “A Girl and Her Pig.”

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup peanut or canola oil
  • 5 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken legs and thighs, hacked into approximately 2-inch pieces through the bone by you or your butcher
  • 2 heads garlic, cloves separated but not peeled
  • 1/2 large Spanish onion, peeled and cut into 8 wedges
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced skin-on ginger
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 4 fresh bay leaves or 2 dried
  • 1 1/2 cups unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot that has a lid over high heat until it starts to smoke. Work in batches so you don’t crowd the pot: add half the chicken skin side down to the smoking oil and cook, turning the pieces over occasionally, until golden brown all over, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer them to a plate and repeat with the second batch of chicken.
  2. Add the garlic, onion, ginger, peppercorns, and bay leaves to the pot. Cook, stirring every now and then, until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the chicken, then the vinegar and soy. Raise the heat to bring the liquid to a boil; scrape the pot on the bottom to work up those brown bits.
  3. Cover the pot, lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is very tender (it’ll come apart with a spoon) about 45 minutes. Serve over rice.

Preparation time: 20 minute(s)

Cooking time: 45 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

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