Filipino Chicken Adobo

March 26, 2012

This may be my first recipe from the Philippines. The recipe calls for coconut milk means, which I knew meant that my family’s opinion would be split.  I love coconut, and give this recipe 4-stars. My coconut-hating son gave his sauce-less chicken just 2-stars. But if you like coconut, the recipe doesn’t require a lot of labor and can be made on a weeknight.

Don’t try it unless you like coconut

The odd thing about this recipe is that the chicken starts skin-side down in a cold skillet. According to Chris Kimball, as the skillet gradually heats up the fat under the skin will begin to melt allowing the chicken to brown. In fact, the chicken browned very well and I discarded quite a bit of fat. So far so good.

But the recipe had a serious flaw. While I followed all the cooking temperatures and times exactly, in the end the thighs registered only 140-degrees. 10 minutes longer and they were only up to 145-degrees. Another 5 minutes and they were still at 145-degrees. After 50 minutes on the stove-top I had to finish under the broiler until the chicken registered 175-degrees. Why? I have two possible explanations: (1) the burner was too low, or (2) because I used only 6 thighs and the recipe called for 8, more of the thighs might have been covered by sauce. The higher level of the liquid would have transferred more heat to the chicken.

Additional comments:

  1. Once I realized that what was going on I used a trick from the poached fish recipe, where I placed half an onion cut-side-down to occupy more space. The onion is there only to increase the level of the liquid. But perhaps I realized there was a problem too much liquid had evaporated for this trick to work.
  2. I only made 6 thighs but still my 12″ skillet was filled. There would have been no more room for 8 thighs specified in this recipe. They did shrink down a bit, but it would have been a tight fit which doesn’t really promote crisp skin.
  3. I would recommend pre-heating your oven in case your chicken isn’t coming up to temperature. If you prepare the chicken in an oven-proof skillet, just stick the whole skillet in a 350-degree oven.
  4. I substituted chopped shallot for chopped scallions, because that’s all I had in my kitchen.
  5. This recipe is from the Philippines, and has nothing whatsoever to do with chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Originally the Spanish term “adobo” meant and vinegar or chili-based sauce that was added as a preservative to meat.

Rating: 4-stars.
Cost: $5.50.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess? Medium.
Started: 1:00 pm  Ready:  6:00 pm.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here.  The descriptions of how I prepared the soup today are given below:

8 bone-in chicken thighs
1/3 cup soy sauce
13-1/2-oz coconut milk
3/4 cup cider vinegar
8 garlic cloves
4 bay leaves
2 teaspoons pepper
1 scallion

  1. Trim any excess fat or skin away from chicken and add to large bowl. Evenly coat chicken with 1/3 cup soy sauce. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. Peel garlic cloves. Remove chicken from soy sauce and place skin-side-down in 12″ non-stick skillet. But don’t discard the soy sauce.
  3. Put skillet on medium-high burner for about 8 minutes until the chicken becomes well browned. Meanwhile add coconut milk, cider vinegar, whole garlic cloves, bay leaves, and ground pepper into bowl with soy sauce.
  4. Temporarily move chicken to a clean plate and empty away any fat in the skillet. Replace the chicken in the skillet, again skin-side down. Add the coconut milk mixture to the skillet and continue to simmer for 20 minutes; uncovered.
  5. Flip the chicken skin-side up and continue to simmer for about 15 minutes until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 175-degrees. (Note: If the chicken is substantially below 175-degrees finish cooking in a 350-degrees oven)
  6. Place chicken on a clean serving platter and tent with aluminum foil while finishing the sauce.
  7. Discard bay leaves and increase burner to medium-high. Cook sauce for 5 to 7 minutes to thicken. Meanwhile, slice your scallions thin.
  8. Pour sauce over chicken and sprinkle with chopped scallions.
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