Have I got a recipe for you! Take the cheapest cuts of chicken, add ordinary and inexpensive condiments that you already have in your kitchen, let it cook for 30-45 minutes without really doing much, and voila! A delicious and super tasty main dish. Add one pot of rice and a salad and you have a fast, easy, and international dinner. Filipino chicken adobo!
One of the perks of being an ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) teacher is that I have access to students from around the world. They share their favorite parts of their culture with me. One of my6th grade students from the Philippines taught me how to make chicken adobo last year and it’s one of my kids’ favorites.
Adobo chicken is a staple Filipino dish, and after you taste it, you know why.
The history of adobo is a bit contested. Did it originate with the Spanish, who Ferdinand Magellan brought when he landed on the Filipino island of Mactan in 1521, only to be felled by the mighty Filipino warrior Lapu-Lapu? The word “adobo” is Spanish, derived from the word adobar, meaning marinade. But most historians believe that the native Filipinos had the ingredients for adobo–namely vinegar and soy sauce–on hand before the Spanish ever “graced” their shores. They had historically used vinegar to preserve meats longer, and when the Chinese introduced them to soy sauce, it was a match made in heaven.
The very cool part of the dish is that the chicken is almost sautéed in soy-vinegar sauce, and the skin, which you don’t remove, melts into the sauce, creating a thick, tangy, salty sauce that tastes divine on rice. There are plenty of recipes out there that call for more involved adobo techniques, including marinating your chicken overnight. But, if you’re like me, you forget to start those steps the night before more often than not.
This is my pared-down version. I promise that even without an overnight marinade or a pre-saute, the chicken turns out finger-lickin’ good, and it only takes about 5 minutes of prep and 30 minutes of cooking. It’s definitely not low-fat but it is filling! And for your frugal eaters out there, this is an excellent frugal meal, given that bone-in, skin-on chicken legs and thighs are some of the cheapest cuts of meat out there.
Prep: 5 minutes. Cook time: 30 minutes.
- 4-6 chicken thighs, or drumsticks (bone-in, skin on)
- 4 cloves of garlic, diced
- ½ cup white vinegar
- ½ cup soy sauce
- 2-3 bay leaves
- Salt and pepper
- Pepper the chicken pieces well on both sides (you don’t need to salt the chicken because of the soy sauce–by the time you reduce it, the mixture is quite salty).
- Place, skin side up, in a large pot with a lid.
- Add the remaining ingredients to the pot.
- Cook chicken covered on medium-high heat for 30-45 minutes, turning chicken twice, until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has thickened. Make sure not to cook it too much–you don’t want the sauce to harden in the pan; then it’s not soppable! 🙂
- Serve over rice, with the adobo sauce as gravy.
That’s it! Then you get to go enjoy standing over the pot with bread or spoon in hand.
If you try out this recipe, or have your own favorite adobo recipe, I’d love to hear from you in the comments!