Saturday, March 03, 2007

Adobo! Gesuntite!

Last Thursday night, I went to my first book club with our friend Holly, and Phil had Holly's husband Noah over. I didn't read the book (Jane Eyre), mind you. I've been having trouble getting through Entertainment Weekly lately. But I'd read the book years ago, in my leisurely reading, pre-kids days, and I brushed up on the CliffsNotes before the group met at a local restaurant, so I was good to pontificate over my Planet Burger.

When Holly and I came back to the house post book group to meet up with Phil and Noah, we all sat around talking and I suggested that come the summer, farmer's market months, we should all go in on half a hog from Royer Farms, a local farm that sells half-, quarter- and whole hogs. For some reason, thick-cut fresh bacon seemed really appealing at midnight.

The only issues are: 1) Our regular freezer is stuffed full of I don't know what. 2) To get a dedicated freezer in our basement, we're going to have to reconfigure our laundry room, a job that's on the list but hasn't floated to the top yet.

So I'm making a concerted effort to clear the freezer before summer hits.

Last night, I thawed some whole bone-in chicken breasts I'd fished from the back of the freezer and was casting about for something to do with them. And came upon a recipe for Chicken Adobo, a classic Filipino dish. I looked through a ton of recipes and found that the dish is incredibly flexible and basically just involves cooking chicken in a mixture of soy sauce and some kind of vinegar until the chicken's done and the sauce is thick enough to spoon on rice. Some recipes were super-simple (dumping everything into a pot), some more complex (braising the chicken and then removing and grilling it while you reduce the sauce). I went down the middle on complexity. There were online comments that this dish can taste pretty vinegar-y, so I used rice wine vinegar instead of a stronger vinegar like apple cider. And some recipes included ginger, which I love, but angry commenters claimed the original dish didn't have ginger. I was more interested in taste than authenticity, so I added some.

I'll admit that the jury was hung on this. Phil wasn't wowed, but in my defense, he got home from errands later than he had expected to and dinner was about a half hour late, meaning the chicken cooked longer than I wanted and then sat waiting for another 15 minutes, so the sauce was probably too concentrated. And by the time we ate, the boys were crabby and whiny and didn't add much mellow to the dinner vibe. Even with all these strikes against it, I really liked my first taste of Chicken Adobo.

So if you're willing to trust me and give it a whirl, here's what I did:

Chicken Adobo

2 Tbsp. or so olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium-sized onion, cut into slices
2 pounds bone-in chicken breasts (mixed parts would also be great)
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup or so reduced-sodium soy sauce (so it doesn't get too salty tasting)
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. ground ginger (1 Tbsp. fresh ginger would be even better)
1-1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Over medium-high heat, heat up the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed big pan or skillet. I used my enamel-covered cast iron 5-1/2 quart Dutch oven. Add the garlic and onion and stir around frequently, softening but being careful not to burn the garlic.

Meanwhile, stick the chicken parts in a bowl. Mix up the rice vinegar, soy sauce, bay leaves, sugar, ginger, and pepper. Pour this over the chicken, and flip the chicken around to coat.

When the onion is soft, about six minutes, put the chicken pieces (but not the sauce) in the hot pan and brown for about 4 minutes on each side. (Go ahead and stir the onion and garlic around the chicken pieces so that it doesn't burn, but don't disturb the chicken pieces so that they can brown.) Now add in the sauce that the chicken had been sitting in, turn the heat to around medium or just below, and let it all cook. When the chicken is cooked through, the sauce will have reduced by about half, and you're done.

Serve rice alongside this, and spoon the thickened sauce over the chicken.

Tonight I'm coming up with some kind of something to do with the package of lamb sausage I have thawing. Maybe some kind of skillet dish? Or is that too Applebee's? Stay tuned...


Blogger Teresa said...

We used to do 1/2 a hog every year. The ham is to die for!

1:16 PM  

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