"I suppose there are people who can pass up free guacamole, but they're either allergic to avocado or too joyless to live."— Frank Bruni

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

our adobo

It seems that everyone has the own version of adobo, their own idea of what should be in the adobo and how to cook it. It reminds me of how Peter Mayle describes a debate he witnesses of some French countrypeople arguing about whose way to prepare an omelette is the correct way, or Gabrielle Hamilton's description of how Italians due the same thing with their dishes. Last night we tried our hand at making chicken adobo for the first time. After having an excellent rendition by Tita Linda this weekend, we were reminded of all the great versions we've had (yours included, Ma) and all the bad versions, and were inspired to come up with a tasty version of our own.

Our ingredients were:
  • 4 big chicken thighs (bone-in, with skin)
  • bay leaves
  • oregano
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 4 banana peppers (yeah, I'll explain this later)
  • 1 white creamer potato
  • light soy sauce
  • white vinegar
  • apple cider vinegar
  • whole peppercorns
  • olive oil

We removed the skin from the thighs and attempted to brown them in oil. For some reason, the chicken was taking a while to get brown. Then we added the aromatics (garlic, peppercorns, bay leaves, oregano, banana peppers) and let that all cook a little together before adding in the liquids (vinegar mix and soy sauce). Then we added our cubed and skinned potato. Some may say nay to putting potatoes in adobo ("Adobo doesn't have potatoes in it") but my mom puts potatoes in her adobo and it's fantastic. Both G and I enjoy potatoes in our adobo, so in went the lone potato. At first, we just cut and added 2 banana peppers into the mix, but we had 2 left, and thinking "what would we do with those anyway?" we added the other 2. Total preparation took about 15 minutes.

Everything simmered in the pot for about 40 minutes, thighs being flipped about twice in that time (like tanning!). The house smelled great and just like it should - like adobo. We then encountered the dilemma that seems to be common when cooking adobo - should we add more vinegar and soy sauce? We noticed there was barely enough liquid in the pot to keep everything simmering and were concerned that there wouldn't be any gravy for our rice. We thought about adding broth, but decided to go with more soy and vinegar (which we decided made the adobo a little too salty).

When the chicken was obviously cooked and the potato chunks were tender, and with our stomachs empty, we decided it was done and time to eat. Back to those 4 banana peppers - our adobo was spicy! The peppers provided the kick we were looking for, but next time we'll just use two. Our biggest fear was not having enough gravy and this indeed happened. In the end, there was no gravy. Maybe the potatoes soaked up what little liquid there was in the pot (the potatoes were great, by the way), but Ma puts potatoes in her adobo and there's always gravy. I'll have to find out how she maintains the liquids.

G stated "I'm pleased. But let's try again tomorrow." I, too, was pleased and proud of our first attempt. The flavor was definitely hoppin' in our adobo but we need to improve on the gravy and saltiness. Also, I found the chicken to be stringy, so we'll have to tweak our cooking method a bit (pan fry it alone after taking it out of the pot?). Nevertheless, we were proud of our adobo and I sense we'll be very possessive and protective of our version once we work out all the kinks. If you have any adobo stories, please share them below!

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