Chicken Adobo

January 20, 2011

I love a lazy day off. I had big plans to go skiing last week. I woke up, put on my gear and checked the weather. Which was -2 degrees with a wind chill of -25. HELL NO. My day would be spent inside, reading and cooking.

I love to spend my mornings plotting what to make for dinner. I curl up on my couch with a hot cup of Constant Comment, a piece of fruit, and a bowl of yogurt and spend an hour or two perusing the internet, cookbooks, and old cooking magazines. When I finally decide on something, I get really excited. And my anticipation for dinner builds all day long.

Once I make my grocery list (because I am one of those people that will go to the store for 2 items and will forget what one of them is) I walk to the grocery store.

Then, I come home and start the prep work. I chop vegetables, or measure out spices so dinner will come together quickly and easily. It’s a good life.

Now this meal, this Chicken Adobo, is HAH-MAY-ZING. It is in both Will and my top 5 favorite meals of all time. You put all your ingredients in a pot the night before or the morning of, and let your chicken thighs bathe in the spicy/creamy/sweet/sour/salty sauce of spicy chiles, coconut milk, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and loads and loads of garlic. At dinner time, you cook it on the stovetop–and try not to die from happiness when the delicious smell of the sauce permeates your kitchen–then pop it in the broiler and let the chicken thighs caramelize. You thicken up all that delicious sauce and spoon it generously over rice, and top it off with a crispy-and-caramelized-on-the-outside but moist-and-tender-on-the-inside chicken thigh. And if you’re wondering, Riesling pairs extremely well with this meal.

Well I could gush for many more paragraphs about this meal, but for now, I’ll leave you with three Adobo jokes Will made up last night.

Q: What do you use when your pictures of Adobo don’t turn out well on your blog?

A: Adobo Photoshop

Q: What do you call a person who makes Adobo while doing a handstand?

A: An Adobo Acrobat

Q: What do you call a person who makes Adobo while wearing a pink polo shirt and madras shorts?

A: An Adobro.

CHICKEN ADOBO (adapted from Adobo Chicken by Sam Sifton at the NYTimes Magazine. He adapted it from Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan of the Purple Yam restaurant, in Brooklyn.)

The only way I adapted this was to substitute habaneros in place of bird’s eye chiles, which I could not find at the store.

Serves 4-6


1 cup coconut milk

¼ cup soy sauce

1½ cup rice vinegar

12 garlic cloves, peeled

2-3 whole, fresh habanero chiles

3 bay leaves

1½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

3 to 4 pounds chicken thighs.


1. Mix all of the ingredients, except the chicken, in a large, nonreactive pot (I used a dutch oven) or resealable plastic freezer bag. Add the chicken and twirl it around in the marinade a few times to get it fully coated. Refrigerate overnight or for at least 2 hours.

2. Put your pot on the stove on high heat and bring to a boil. As soon as it boils, reduce heat to simmer. Stir it every now and then and cook until chicken is fully cooked and tender (30ish minutes).

3. Put on the broiler. Place chicken pieces on a roasting pan (line it with foil or parchment paper, you will thank me profusely for the mess you don’t have to scrub later). Increase the heat on the pot to medium high. Cook the sauce until it reduces to a thickness similar to cream (10 minutes). Take out bay leaves and chilies.

4. Put your roasting pan with chicken pieces under broiler for 5 to 7 minutes, until they just start caramelizing. Take the roasting pan out of the oven, flip the chicken, pour a little of the reduced sauce over eat piece of chicken, and place back under the broiler for 3-5 more minutes. Put the chicken back in the pot of sauce, turn to coat, then serve with rice.


5 Responses to “Chicken Adobo”

  1. Leah Says:

    I made this and it was delicious! I only used one chile instead of three, and it was still spicy enough for me. I don’t like things too spicy though. So good!!

  2. Sarah Says:

    Made this for an “All the Single Ladies” (most of whom were dudes) Valentine’s Day dinner party, and holy moly. I should have made more! Seriously, this is the best thing. OMGOMGOMG. I used 3 habaneros for 5ish lbs of chicken, and it was perfect. Also apparently if you don’t quite have enough rice vinegar you can throw in a few squirts of lemon juice? Thanks, internet!

  3. Sarah Says:

    In case you were wondering what to do with the extra sauce:

    6:30 PM me: hot or not: reusing chicken adobo sauce i froze a couple months ago
    Kyle: if it was frozen? hot
    me: which was used to marinate chicken, but boiled a ton then, and boiled a ton now, and baked with the chicken and stuff
    Kyle: ohh
    if it was with raw chicken
    def not
    me: but cooked with it?
    Kyle: but it’s just the sauce?
    me: yeah
    6:31 PM Kyle: ummm
    me: like, the original recipe was like here, marinate it in this, then reduce it to make the sauce, after the chicken is done
    Kyle: hmm
    i am unsure
    me: me too
    it tastes awesome though
    6:32 PM Kyle: i’d probably err on not using it, but i am just wary of things that have been around raw chicken
    it’s probably ok?
    6:33 PM me: my rationale is that it was like gravy? like, that is how gravy is made, sort of
    Kyle: yeah
    6:34 PM gosh, i really don’t know
    me: chicken is an odd thing
    an odd bird, if you will
    which i obviously will
    Kyle: hahah
    me: but i mean, it undergoes a transition from NOT OKAY to MMMM
    but i mean, the chicken…touched…itself?
    and you eat it!
    6:35 PM Kyle: yeah but after you def cook it all the way through
    i know what you’re saying
    me: right
    i couldn’t bring myself to ask beforehand
    Kyle: oh you already ate ot
    me: and googling “reuse leftover chicken adobo sauce” etc etc yielded nothing really
    because apparently no one does this
    Kyle: yes
    6:36 PM me: but i mean, the original recipe was like “this is sauce. put it on the chicken and the rice and eat it.”
    6:37 PM so i figure if it was sauce then, i froze it, it is sauce now
    on my stir fry
    and let me tell you, a chicken fat based sauce really adds some life to a tofu stir fry
    Kyle: haha
    6:38 PM me: i don’t know why more vegetarians don’t do this to their tofu, it’s so bland otherwise
    Kyle: i love tofu!
    me: (i do too)

    CONCLUSION: Delicious and up-to-par in food safety standards.

  4. anon Says:

    I halved this for my one package of chicken thighs and it was DELICIOUS! I have had adobo before, but I thought these ingredients might give it more of an Asian flavor than I was used to. Nope, it was perfect. Thank you!

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