Chicken Adobo and Garlic Rice

Not until I left did I miss the little things about my home: the abundance of cable television, the shelf of video games waiting for me, and the eternally stocked fridge, a treasure trove of ingredients waiting to be transformed. College students are always grateful for a homemade meal after months of cafeteria food. Not many have access to a full and functional kitchen, and fewer can keep it stocked beyond the basics of bread, cereal, and milk.

Adobo is a staple dish of the Philippines and I grew up watching my mama make it countless times. You can take pretty much any cut of meat, marinate them in the trifecta of garlic, soy sauce, and vinegar, and receive a savory meal greater than the sum of its parts. It is budget-friendly and will keep for quite a while due to the vinegar (but let’s be honest, I’ll eat it all before it goes bad).

So whenever I feel particularly homesick and hungry for something savory, I’ll get the cheapest cuts of chicken I can find (frozen chicken legs) and toss it in a pot with some soy sauce, vinegar, and pepper. The smell envelopes the kitchen in minutes as the liquids heat up. The vinegar and peppercorn provide a tangy bite, infusing the chicken and the broth.The chicken is decidedly savory and will be falling from the bone. The rice plus broth combo is a treat of its own after the meat pieces have been devoured.

Of course, every Filipino family has its own recipe and this is just the most basic, done with what I could get at the campus shop. At home, my mama uses cider vinegar instead of white and pork instead of chicken, and there are variants with vegetables as well, so the possibilities are endless.

Chicken Adobo

½ pound of chicken cuts (I personally prefer dark meat)
½ cup white vinegar
¼ cup soy sauce
1 clove of garlic, roughly chopped
2 teaspoon whole black peppercorn (but I used a teaspoon of ground black pepper instead, which works just as well)
½ teaspoon salt
2-3 bay leaves
½ cup water

No time to defrost your chicken? No problem.

Add all the ingredients to a medium size pot. Simmer for forty minutes to an hour, depending on the size of chicken parts you are using. I usually use chicken legs, which get very tender after an hour on the stove. Every once in a while, move the chicken, making sure they are touching the liquid during the cooking process.

And that’s it.

Why is it lazy? The chicken doesn’t need to be marinated, defrosted, or even cut. Just make sure the pieces fit in the vessel you want to use. Less effort — just as tasty!

If you’re using fresh chicken and have a bit of time before supper (and have some energy to spare):

Cut chicken into slightly-larger-than-bite-size pieces. Marinate them with everything else except for the bay leaves in a bowl for about 1-2 hours in the fridge. Fry the chicken lightly in the pot you are going to use. There’s no need to cook all the way – just to get skin crispy and a little sear.

Simmer everything — chicken, marinade, and the bay leaves– for forty minutes to an hour.

In both cases (from fresh or frozen), the chicken will be done when the meat is tender and easily removed from the bone. The simmering can be lengthened for more tender meat, but time not always so available. Serve with garlic rice (below), or freshly cooked rice.

Garlic Rice

4-5 cups “old” rice (rice made the day before or even a few hours ago)
3 cloves of garlic, chopped (We love our garlic, but you can always change this amount)
Sesame oil

Heat about 2 tablespoons of cooking oil in a frying pan or wok over medium heat.

Toss in the garlic and saute quickly, just until the pieces start turning brown.

Add the rice into the pan, crumbling any big clumps as you do so. Sprinkle about 4-5 drops of sesame oil on the rice and mix.

Let it sit on heat for a minute, then stir around, and repeat until the rice is heated through. I do this to achieve crispy bits with my rice but this will depend on your preference.

Optional: Other add-ins include scrambled eggs, a handful of chopped green onions, a drizzle of sweet soy sauce, and so on.