Growing up in the Philippines, I was a really picky eater. There are foods that I absolutely would not touch and I was, quite frankly, a pain in the ass to cook for. Some things in the fairly long list are atchara (pickled shredded papaya), anything with ampalaya (bitter melon), tutong (the burnt rice at the bottom of the pot), and our embarrassingly hacked up interpretation of spaghetti, cloyingly sweet and studded with neon-red hotdog slices.
We do, indeed, put hotdogs instead of meatballs in our spaghetti.
It’s kind of funny how one ends up longing for foods avoided as a child. I still can’t get over the sugary spaghetti sauce, though. Like any good Filipino brat, I merely picked out the Purefoods Tender Juicy Hotdog slices, leaving the clumpy starch behind before running off with friends to play sipa.
Others things I wouldn’t touch fall under the category of “leftovers.” If it was cooked yesterday then I’m not having it. No exceptions. I couldn’t stand it when told that such-and-such is best made a day ahead. It didn’t make sense to me at all.
Now that I know better, it turns out that there was no conspiracy to use me as a means to get rid of leftovers.
This chicken adobo recipe, as is true of most braised or stewed dishes, is best made a day ahead. The use of coconut milk is not traditional but adds richness that plays well with the acidity in the sauce. From Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan of Cendrillon, a Filipino restaurant in New York, it’s slowly changing my perception of what adobo should be.
recipe adapted from Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan’s Memories of Philippine Kitchens
Chicken Adobo in Coconut Milk
Adobong Manok sa Gata
makes 6 servings
For the Marinade:
1 1/2 cups rice vinegar
1 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup soy sauce
12 whole garlic cloves, peeled
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
6 chicken leg quarters, approximately 3 to 4 pounds
dried or fresh chiles, to taste (optional)
- As with short ribs adobo, the original recipe calls for 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground pepper. I used whole berries and doubled the amount to reduce the grittiness of the broth.
- I sometimes add habanero and chile de arbol chiles to the sauce for a spicier adobo.
Mix all of the marinade ingredients together. Add the chicken pieces and turn in the marinade to coat. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
In a wide heavy pot or dutch oven, bring the marinade and chicken to a boil over high heat, arranging the chicken in a single layer if possible. Lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cover the pot with a tight lid and braise for 25 to 30 minutes, until cooked through and tender.
If serving the next day, let cool to room temperature while uncovered before storing in the refrigerator.
Prepare a grill or preheat a broiler. Transfer the chicken to a large plate, ensuring that the peppercorns and bay leaves stay in the pot. Add the chiles to the sauce (if using) and reduce over medium-high heat until thickened to the consistency of heavy cream. While the sauce is reducing, grill or broil the chicken until heated through and slightly charred.
Strain the sauce to remove the whole peppercorns and bay leaves. Pour the sauce over the grilled or broiled chicken and serve with rice.
- A lukewarm review of the recipe at Burnt Lumpia.
- A detailed step-by-step at [eatingclub] Vancouver.
- The Amateur Gourmet likes the chicken adobo at Cendrillon.
- Recipe and video of Romy Dorotan cooking adobo with Martha Stewart.