Adobo chicken comes in two varieties, there is Mexican Adobo chicken, which sounds really good, but is another post, and Filipino Adobo chicken which is so easy and so wonderful. The first time I made it I was heading to a July fourth picnic and I saw this recipe for Adobo Cornish hens in Gourmet Magazine, it sounded perfect, and it was. It was a big hit, and I was hooked. This dish became my default chicken dish, I used it for Cornish hens, then eventually for any chicken. I stopped using the recipe after that first time, in fact when I looked at it today I was surprised to see I’ve been leaving some ingredients out for years. I may try it using those forgotten items, but this time I made it my usual way.
I’m not sure when or why I stopped making it. In fact I don’t think I’ve made it for a few years. I had some chicken thighs in the fridge, and was hunting around the internet for some inspiration when I came across a recipe for Filipino chicken, and I thought ‘that is just what I’m looking for!’ It is bright, salty and garlicky, it cooks up with a nice crisp skin, and what more could you want? I use only three ingredients (besides chicken) cider vinegar, soy sauce and garlic. I can’t even say I measure, beyond using equal amounts of soy sauce and vinegar, and three our four cloves of smashed garlic. You can use it for any cut of chicken, though I don’t recommend using it for skinless chicken as the meat will be discolored and not very appetizing.
I looked up a number of recipes for this Adobo chicken, and I’m sure it won’t shock you to learn there are many versions. All of them start out about the same; a vinegar and soy sauce marinade with garlic, after that things diverge. Lynn Rosetto Kaspar uses tomatoes in hers, and simmers it first, then browns the chicken, it sounds wonderful, but it’s way more complicated than my version. Some recipes just marinate the chicken, then put the chicken and marinade into a pot or slow cooker, and cook it all together, which doesn’t sound all that good to me, especially because you’ll end up with rubbery chicken skin. I do like the idea of cooking it first , then browning it, though if you remove it form the marinade and roast it you won’t need to do that.
Here is my method (notice I didn’t say recipe). I put about 1/4 cup each of soy sauce and cider vinegar into a resealable bag, smash my garlic and toss that in, then add the chicken. This amount of marinade is good for about four pieces of chicken, so for a whole chicken (cut up) you’d want to double the liquid. Marinate for four to twenty-four hours, then drain the marinade. Roast on a parchment lined pan (easy clean-up) at 375°F until the chicken is brown and crispy, around twenty to twenty-five minutes. You can save the marinade and bring it to a boil to make a sauce, but I’d advise adding some chicken stock, and using a roux or a cornstarch slurry to thicken that a bit, and cut the saltiness.
The traditional accompaniment for Adobo chicken is rice, but as I mentioned this is a great picnic dish, and is good cold too. The chicken will definitely have the tang of the vinegar, and if you wanted to balance that a bit you could add some maple syrup to the marinade, which will also help the chicken brown nicely. When I was in culinary school one of our chefs taught us to take a duck and put it into a deep wok with a warm simple syrup, and turn the duck over and over, coating it in the sugar solution before roasting it. The sugar got into every nook of the entire duck, and it browned beautifully. You could do the same with your Adobo chicken.
Do you have a super-simple, never fail recipe? We’re all looking for more of those, so if you’ve got one, please leave a comment with yours!