I’ve been eating my mom’s chicken adobo for as long as I can remember. Over the years, it has become one of our family’s favorite dishes. For those who aren’t too familiar, chicken adobo is a slow-cooked Filipino dish served with rice. I associate it with something to enjoy for Sunday supper or on cold, rainy days because it just feels good when you eat it. Chicken adobo is an umami bomb, rich with salty flavors of soy sauce that is tempered with vinegar, seasoned with whole peppercorns, garlic and bay leaves. All cooked together and slicked in their own fat, it’s truly Filipino indulgence at its finest.
Note: Traditionally, this dish does not have a lot of sauce, but my family has come to love that part the most, so my recipe yields more liquid. You can adjust it to how you’d like to enjoy it. Some, even prefer to have the liquid reduce until it’s almost gone. That wouldn’t fly in my house.
Here’s how to make it (my way). Traditionally, everything is placed in a pot then brought to a simmer. I brine my chicken first, then I brown it, then add everything to the pot. While the adobo is cooking, I cook the rice.
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
6–8 cloves garlic, smashed with the side of a knife and peeled
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
12 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs or legs
Brine chicken in salt water for a few hours in the refrigerator. Remove from water and pat dry with paper towels. In a pan, brown each chicken piece thoroughly, add smashed garlic and brown. I don’t use any oil here, as the chicken skin will create it’s own. Add all liquid, peppercorns and bay and bring to a boil, then reduce. Simmer for approximately 1 hour until meat becomes ultra soft. Baste often to make certain all parts of the chicken are exposed to the sauce. Uncover and simmer 30 minutes longer until sauce reduces. It will also thicken. Serve with hot rice. The idea is to get rice, chicken, sauce and one peppercorn in every bite.