Sunday, June 13, 2010

Chicken Adobo

Once or twice a year, we splurge and buy a whole chicken.  It's a splurge because of course it has to be a free range, organic chicken, and those don't come cheaply (but that's the way it should be).  Since we're paying more and it really is a rare occasion, we go all out and try to make an awesome dinner out of it.  It always makes plenty for leftovers too, so we get about 3 meals out of that one bird.  We also make stock out of the carcass, so that's another couple of meals as well.

This time Joe pretty much ran the kitchen, I just took some pictures and suggested roasted asparagus for a side dish.  He chose to make Mark Bittman's Chicken Adobo.  It's a dish from the Philippines, and it's basically chicken that is poached in a mixture of soy sauce, rice vinegar, and coconut milk.  Then the chicken pieces are finished by roasting, grilling, or broiling, while the poaching liquid is simmered on the stove until it has reduced into a delicious sauce that is later served over the chicken and some rice.

I can hardly find words to describe how good it was.  The flavors of the soy sauce and coconut milk intensified as they reduced and the result was incredible.  This is going in the books as my favorite chicken recipe of all time!  The next time you find yourself with a whole chicken, I highly recommend this recipe.

We wanted to eat this on Sunday, but we also wanted time to make the chicken stock before the busy week got underway, so we started it on Saturday and refrigerated it overnight (see instructions in recipe below).  This way Joe could make the stock on Saturday as well (in the past we don't always get around to making the stock if we don't make it right away, so this worked out nicely).  Then on Sunday, all we had to do was grill the chicken, simmer the sauce, and make rice.

Chicken Adobo
adapted from Mark Bittman - How to Cook Everything
Serves 4-6

1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup white or rice vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups coconut milk (this is optional, but I think it really adds a lot of flavor and would not skip it if I were you)
1 whole chicken, 3 to 4 pounds, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 8 pieces, or any combination of parts

In a large saucepan or dutch oven (it has to be large enough to hold all the chicken in one layer) combine the soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, bay leaves, pepper, 1 cup water, and half the coconut milk.  Cover and bring to a boil over high heat.  Add the chicken and reduce the heat down to medium-low.  Cover again and cook for about 20 minutes, turning once or twice, until the chicken is almost done.

At this point, you may either proceed with the recipe or refrigerate the chicken in this liquid for up to a day (skim the fat before reheating).

Heat the oven to 450 F, or heat a charcoal or gas grill or broiler to moderate heat and put the rack about 4 inches from the heat source.  Take the chicken pieces out of the liquid and dry them off a bit with paper towels.  Grill, broil, or roast the chicken until brown, crisp, and hot, turning as necessary, about 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil the sauce, along with the remaining coconut milk, over high heat until it has reduced to about one cup.  Discard the bay leaves.  Keep warm until the chicken is ready.

Serve the chicken over rice and pass the sauce at the table.


  1. Oh my gosh, this looks so good! Ryan got me the How to Cook Everything book for my birthday, and he would love this dish. I also looked fennel up in the book and made the baked fennel recipe (I combined the fennel with some other veggies, too)...very tasty. I knew I probably wouldn't use that nice fennel from our CSA box otherwise.

  2. That fennel recipe sounds good! I'll have to try that sometime. Yes, this chicken was A-mazing, Ryan would love it. I'm so glad you have the cookbook now! It's the best!


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