Chicken Adobo with Okra and Sunchokes

May 10, 2012
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Author Notes: This chicken is a real wonder.It fits this 52 $ bill in so many ways! Adobo packs the most punch for the least amount of effort- of any chicken dish I can think of. And cheap? In my book, that means no expensive ingredients.Yep, you start with chicken thighs, a less expensive cut of chicken, and then all you need is vinegar, soy sauce, bay leaves, garlic and black pepper! I am a real acid lover in food, and my favorite thing about this dish is the vinegar punch coupled with the salty depth of the soy sauce , punctuated by the full flavor of mellow cooked garlic, the spiciness of black pepper, and the floral herbiness of the bay leaves. Each batch I make yields extra sauce- which I freeze and add to the next Adobo (like a sourdough starter.) Because the sauce has alot of reduced chicken juices and collagen, each batch of Adobo is increasingly flavorful. The inclusion of okra and sunchokes makes it hit all the nutritional bases , once it is served over rice or another grain.


Serves: 2-4

  • canola oil
  • 2 pounds chicken thighs, skin-on, bone- in, trimmed of excess fat pockets and extra skin
  • 1 cup white vinegar *
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup kikkoman soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
  • 6 bay leaves,cracked
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 1/2-3/4 pound whole okra pods, washed, optional
  • 1/2 pound sunchokes sliced 1/4 inch thick into rounds, cut in half, optional
  • 1-2 cups cooked grain like short grain brown rice, wheatberries, red qiunoa
  1. In a pot/pots big enough to hold the chicken in one layer, heat some oil. Beginning with skin side down, sear chicken in a little hot oil til lightly browned on both sides, just a few minutes. Add vinegar through garlic , and, if you choose to use them, okra pods and sunchokes (push them down into the sauce.) Bring to a low simmer, partially cover and cook 15 minutes.(Make sure it doesn't boil.) Taste and add more soy sauce or vinegar as needed for balance.Uncover, turn thighs over, re-cover partially and simmer about 15-30 minutes til chicken is done and clear juices run out of center of meat when pierced with skewer.The meat should easily separate from the bone. Remove chicken, okra and sunchokes from pot and keep tented.
  2. Pour sauce into a fat separating measuring cup and pour the sauce back into the saute pan, discarding the chicken fat left in the bottom of the separator. Sometimes, the sauce will be thick enough at this point, but if not: In a bowl, whisk water into cornstarch until it forms a smooth paste (no lumps.) Add a little more water if paste is too thick. Pour half of paste into pan sauce,whisking to combine thoroughly. Bring to boil, stirring, and turn down to low simmer. Sauce should coat back of spoon; if not, add more cornstarch paste, bring to another boil and turn down to simmer. Remove the chicken skin, add thighs and/or vegetables back into pan and spoon sauce over til chicken is hot. Turn heat off and serve on bed of rice or other grains, with abundant sauce.
  3. *Over the years, I have tried many variations of Adobo, but I prefer the balance of the recipe I have developed here. Fyi, you can substitute cider vinegar or cane vinegar 1 for 1, but sherry and balsamic vinegars are too strong to substitute 1 for 1. Because this is the Philippine national dish, there are thousands of variations. Most recipes use 1:1 vinegar to soy sauce; some use more water; some use coconut milk. The same recipe can also be used with pork chops.
  4. Leftover sauce freezes well and is rich with chicken juices and collagen. It can be re-used in a new batch, adding ingredients as needed or water to thin.

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