Just as there are umpteen versions of Italian Spaghetti Sauce and Mexican Salsa Roja, you can also find a plethora of recipes for Filipino Adobo Chicken. To clarify, “adobo” refers to a method of marinating and stewing for any cut of meat or fish in a briny mixture of vinegar, soy sauce, and spices. However, don’t confuse Filipino adobo with the spicy Spanish adobo sauce. Although they both share the Spanish name, they are vastly different in flavor and ingredients.
There are basic adobo ingredients, yet often a variety of others are included. Vinegar and soy sauce are the heart of adobo, but over the centuries, other liquids have occasionally been added to the brine. Some combos include coconut milk, which mellows the strong flavors of the vinegar and soy sauce. Others include sugar or honey to add a touch of sweetness and an almost teriyaki-like characteristic. The flavor of adobo can also be varied depending on the type of vinegar used. In the Philippines, coconut vinegar, rice vinegar, or cane vinegar are the most common.
Over the past Winter holiday season, Hubby attended a work function where one of his coworkers contributed a crockpot full of her mother’s version of this dish. He was so impressed, he asked the officemate to email him the recipe, which she did—but we didn’t get around to making it until late Spring. Anyway, the recipe below reflects my changes, which Mr. Hubs also loved.
If using bone-in chicken breasts, cut the split breasts into quarters so that they are a more uniform in size to the dark pieces to ensure even cooking, plus the marinade will penetrate more of the meat. BTW, for additional flavor, swap out unsweetened pineapple juice for the 1 cup of water. If you serve it over rice (best steamed with homemade chicken stock instead of water), spoon the extra sauce over.
Trust me, you’re gonna hope there are leftovers!
Filipino Adobo Chicken
- 1 Cup white vinegar
- 1/4 Cup soy sauce
- 3 Whole garlic bulbs, smashed and peeled
- 1 Tsp. fish sauce
- 1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. adobo seco seasoning
- 1 Bay leaf
- 1 Tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped; plus more for garnish
- 3 Lbs. bone-in chicken thighs, drumsticks, breasts; or a combination thereof
- 2 Tbsp. canola oil
- 1 Cup water (or unsweetened pineapple juice)
- Combine the first seven ingredients in a small bowl. Add with chicken to a ziploc bag; refrigerate for 30-60 minutes.
- Drain, reserving marinade. Pat chicken dry.
- In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat; brown chicken on both sides for about 4 minutes per side.
- Stir in water (or pineapple juice) and reserved marinade. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, until chicken is no longer pink and sauce is slightly reduced, 20-25 minutes. The meat is done when an instant-read registers 165°. If some pieces are done before others, move them to a platter and cover with foil.
NOTE: If you want to reduce the sauce further (which is what I did), move all of the chicken to a platter when it reaches 150° and cover with foil. The meat temperature will rise as it rests. When the sauce is to your liking, add the chicken back to the skillet for a minute or two while spooning the marinade over the meat.
- Serve chicken immediately over steamed rice with cooking sauce.