Thursday, December 20, 2007

comfort food

adobo, originally uploaded by organic baker.

a cheap way to go back home and be with my mom is to make a batch of chicken adobo. it sure is not for me, but the process of making it fills my spirit like any comfort food can.

adobo is a staple at my mama nena's lazy susan. at least people from the household can cook it but it never will taste the same. for some reason, it has a personality of its own, and the adobo usually takes it from the hands of its maker.

adobo is adobo because of its 5 main ingredients: vinegar, soy sauce, whole peppercorns, bay leaf and garlic. any permutation with these 5 plus your meat (or veggie, or tofu) is totally acceptable and will give you adobo. anything added to it, let's say coconut cream, will still give you adobo. there is only one rule in making adobo: if the vinegar is added, resist the urge to stir it until its first boil - otherwise the flavors will never meld. don't ask me. ask my mom.

vingar to soy sauce ratio is a matter of personal taste. my mama nena uses a one to one ratio with a ladle and adds water to the saute pan. a one pot wonder. just boil, simmer and you are done.

i personally use a mug to mix my sauce. i thought it was fool proof and i never have to taste it. i always start with vinegar, just about a third of the mug, then add the soy sauce, about until the same level as the top part of the mug's handle (this is how i measure o.k.?) then top it with a little bit of water. pour it to your chicken in a pot (a family pack of chicken on sale does it right). add 5 fingertips full of whole peppercorns, 3 bay leaves (dried of course) and about half a head of garlic, smashed. i squirt in some hoisin sauce just to add a hint of sweetness. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes. Then turn off heat.

Transfer the chicken to a colander to drain. Continue to simmer the sauce until slightly thickened. The chicken? Fry it in butter. Nice and golden it will be. After frying your last batch of chicken, gently toast a whole head of smashed garlic, move it to the side of the pan, put all the chicken back then pour the simmering sauce on top. Continue to simmer for about 5 more minutes. Congratulations! You've just made a pot full of garlic and love.

Here's a tip: Transfer the adobo in a bowl. Dump some cooked rice to the pot and scrape all that flavors with the rice. How can you not like that?

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