Filipino

One-Pot Chicken Adobo Is the Most Delicious Way to Celebrate My Heritage

The sweet, salty, and tangy Filipino dish is a weeknight staple at my house.

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November  6, 2018

We've partnered with Bosch, makers of high quality home appliances like the Benchmark side-opening wall oven, to share recipes, tips, and videos that highlight the little details that make a dish truly delicious.

Living a half a world away, adobo—the unofficial national dish of the Philippines—can bring me home in an instant.

While I grew up mostly in the United States, I lived in the Philippines as a small child, and I have so many memories of my Lola (great grandmother) taking me on local adventures. We’d hop on the jeepney to visit her friends and family, or she’d take me to the market to buy things for dinner. Even today, when I’m walking through New York City’s Chinatown I’ll catch a whiff of something that brings me right back to holding my Lola’s hand. I hold on tight to those memories: the sights, sounds, and smells.

Sweet, salty, tangy, and ready in an hour...sign us up! Photo by Ty Mecham

Now that I’m a cook and food stylist living in Brooklyn, I’m not only far away from the Philippines, but also far from my Filipino family in California. Despite this fact, or maybe because of it, I’m always looking for ways to preserve my culture for my own children. I take my kids to Filipino restaurants; I follow historical Filipino Instagram and Facebook pages; my youngest daughter practices kuntaw (Filipino martial arts). Every Christmas Eve, I cook them an elaborate Filipino meal of roasted crispy pork belly and pancit, and on Christmas morning, I make sisiglog for breakfast out of the pork belly leftovers.

But I’m just as likely to preserve my culture on a weeknight as I am on a special occasion. My absolute favorite way to do so is by making adobo. The beloved recipe has a long history: Before the Spanish colonized the Philippines, indigenous Filipinos used to preserve their meat in vinegar and salt. After the Spanish arrived, they chose the name “adobo”—which means sauce or marinade—to describe the dish.

This tangy chicken adobo is a breeze to whip up any night of the week thanks to Bosch's Benchmark side-opening wall oven. Photo by Andrew Reed Weller

There are countless variations on adobo. Technically you can use any type of meat or vegetables, but for weeknights, I like to use chicken thighs. It’s a meal that requires minimal shopping, and cooks in about an hour, which for me means it can be done any night of the week. (Also, leftover adobo is the best! I swear it gets even better the next day.) And as I discovered a few years ago when I was prepping for a party with a crowded stove top, there's more than one way to cook it, too. While classic recipes will tell you to simmer adobo on the stove top, you can actually braise it in the oven for just-as-tender results.

Since then, the oven-braising method has become my go-to. It keeps my apartment warmer in the colder months, plus when I prepare it this way, my stove top stays so much cleaner...probably thanks to the fact that I’m fussing with the dish less.


The Difference Is in the Details

No matter how you like to cook your adobo, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Customize it: Chicken not your thing? You can use pork or beef, or really whatever you feel like; my childhood favorite was squid adobo. You can also make it vegetarian—just make sure you use a vegetable that can hold up to a braise. I like broccoli, cauliflower, onion, green beans, carrots, and lotus root for some extra texture.
  • Use bone-in: I always use bone-in chicken, or bone-in whatever-kind-of-meat-I’m-braising. This gives the broth a richer, heartier flavor.
  • Sear your chicken skin: Searing skin-side down renders the fat and deepens the flavor. It will also give your finished dish a nice color and more appetizing appearance.
  • Any vinegar will do: Don’t freak out if you don’t have rice vinegar; you can use whatever you have on hand. Traditionally, cane or coconut vinegar is used. For my own recipe, I chose rice vinegar because it’s a little less sharp on the palate. But truthfully, I’ve made so many last-minute adobos with white vinegar, apple cider, or a combination of whatever I have left in my pantry, and they've all turned out great.
  • Feel free to get brothy: My recipe says to reduce the adobo until the meat starts to look glazed, but my whole family loves the adobo broth. I always like to have a second helping of just rice and broth, so I tend to reduce my broth a little less. Whether you want it glazey or brothy, it’s entirely up to you.

We're firm believers in the fact that little things can make a big impact. The quality and freshness of ingredients can take a simple dish from good to great. A small tweak to a recipe, like braising in the oven instead of simmering on the stove, can mean less mess. And home appliances that are reliable and intuitive—like the Benchmark side-opening wall oven we used to make this dish—can streamline getting dinner on the table, making your entire week less stressful. We've partnered with Bosch to celebrate these small but vital boosts in our day-to-day lives, with recipes, videos, and more.

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3 Comments

Peri November 16, 2018
My Name is Peri Antonio and I've been working in the kitchen a long time. I was wondering how to get more involved working with the culture of cullinary arts?
 
Urvi November 7, 2018
We love adobo in our house so much! Thanks for sharing the wonderful memories of your grandmother.
 
Pandi66 November 6, 2018
I do find it difficult to make adobo in more than one pot.