When I think of dinner parties, I think of time I will be spending in the kitchen. My recent adventure actually left leisure time for relaxation and conversation BEFORE DINNER WAS SERVED. Shocker. There was exceptional kitchen help and there was also chicken adobo. Crowd pleaser. Leftover king. Low-key, accommodating, with some natural charisma and a lot of flavor.
This chicken is a little sweet and a little savory, falling off the bone, and accompanied by tender whole cloves of garlic. Adobo is Spanish for marinade. It’s as simple as it sounds. Chicken adobo originated in the Philippines. I received it by way of my mother, who learned it from family friends who are Filipino. The vinegar in adobo preserves the chicken over long periods of time, and enables you to basically cook it in the AM and eat it in the PM with no fuss. Naturally, the Filipino dish was commonly taken by travelers on journey.
After years of making adobo for dinner parties and her family, my mother’s recipe has been distilled into the brilliance below. Traditional recipes will brown the chicken and refine the sauce (sauce instructions below). We keep it simple and delicious and served over brown rice. Great for dinner parties or cozy evenings. It’s even better the day after.
6 Organic skin on bone in chicken thighs, washed
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
1 whole head garlic, skins removed
2 bay leaves
Peel the garlic. The way I do it is to first break all the cloves off of the head and remove all the flaky outer skin. Then I place the garlic on its side on the cutting board and place the thickest part of a chef’s knife horizontally atop it. Then you hit the knife with the side of a fist enough to break the outer skin but not smash the garlic (it’s OK if it’s a little bruised). Guys beware: this is not a manly feat.
Place all the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed pot. Yes, this means putting in the whole peppercorns and garlic. Bring it to a boil. Once it boils, turn the heat down slightly until it is only a rolling boil (not furiously boiling) so much so that the liquid with disappear. Put a lid on and cook for 30 minutes. Every 10 minutes turn rotate the thighs. Turn down to simmer and let it cook for another 15.
Take off the heat. Let sit for at least 4 hours away from the stove. The vinegar preserves the chicken, so it can be left to sit covered at room temperature while it marinates. Skim off the fat that has risen to the top. If the sauce is not yet in a solid state, the fat will be the clear slippery liquid floating on the top.
If you want to make the dish more elegant (depending on who the eaters are), you can strain and cook down the sauce. If you choose this option, take out the chicken and garlic and place in a bowl. Strain the sauce through a sieve and discard any solid material. Place the sauce back into the pot and simmer until at desired thickness (about 20 minutes). Let cool. Place the chicken back into the pot until it’s read to serve.
Heat the chicken back up on medium until warm and serve over brown rice.