Friday, May 25, 2007

The cure for Brooks' chicken phobia?

"But I don't LIKE chicken." This is what Brooks said when I suggested we make filipino adobo with chicken. Why, you ask? Because he was emotionally scarred as a child when his mom forced him to consume "Lemon Yogurt Chicken" at least twice a week. I've known this almost the entire time I've known Brooks, but I thought it was time he got over his fear. The following is a paragraph describing Brooks' aversion to the offending chicken:

"I think it's pretty self-explanatory, but I'll break it down for you. It's a dried chicken breast with my favorite part removed (the skin) slathered with gelatinous lemon yogurt, the kind with sugar and artificial yellow food coloring. It was coated with some kind of bread crumb crap that made me pray for shake-n-bake. Biting into it was deceiving; my teeth hit the false surface and sank down to gum level in yogurt before I hit chicken. After my teeth cleared the yogurt and I got an actual bite of chicken, I masticated it like a cow preparing it for the rumen. My face must have looked like George W. after someone asked him the definition of sovereignty. I slyly wiped my mouth with a napkin and deposited a bollus of lemon yogurt chicken, then stashed it in a secret compartment under the table to be taken care of by Alex or Gordo, the family dogs. I think this was a period in my mom's life when she was tired of cooking every night and wanted to f*** with us. This was particularly vexing because my mom is actually a very good cook. This meal worked out well for my high school wrestling weight loss regime. It pretty much tasted like ass with lemon squeezed over it, and enlightened me as to why chicken is referred to as 'fowl'."

Brooks grudgingly decided to go along with the chicken adventure, and as you can see from the pic, I don't think he's quite sure what to make of it. He told me he actually got confused with the chicken anatomy at the supermarket! He's still not sure where chicken thighs come from, even though it seems obvious. All in all he said he's not completely opposed to eating chicken any longer, however he much prefers the "small, juicy pieces like drumettes", which happen to be the meaty part of the wing butchered so it looks like a small drumstick.

As far as the adobo goes, it was pretty good, but I have to go with a "mid-brow" on this one. The method was three fold: marinating, braising, and finally frying. The reason we chose to make adobo is because Brooks just made a mexican adobo that turned out great, and this filipino version peaked our interest because it has completely different ingredients. It seems like the french equivalent to brining, but it's also braised in it's brine. The vinegar and seasonings keep the meat very moist, tangy and flavorful. I found this recipe in Martin Yan's Asia, and I was drawn to it because of it's simplicity. I don't usually use recipes when I prepare savory food (ALWAYS with baking), but I've never made adobo before, so I thought it prudent to do it right the first time...I can mess with it later. We took a little liberty and added ginger to the marinade, but we did everything else by the book:

Chicken Adobo, Martin Yan's Asia
3/4 cup palm or rice vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 T. minced garlic
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
4 each chicken legs and thighs
3/4 cup water
2 T. cooking oil
2 tsp. cornstarch dissolved in 1 T. water

Marinate: Mix vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, bay leaf, sugar, salt and pepper and marinate chicken for 30 minutes in 3 quart pan.

Braise: Add 3/4 cup water to the marinade and simmer over low heat for 45 minutes. Remove chicken from sauce and pat dry with paper towels. Strain remaining sauce into another pan, add the cornstarch mixture and simmer until thickened.

Fry: Heat a clean, dry pan over medium heat. Add oil, let it come up to temp, then place the chicken skin side down. Fry for 5ish minutes until crispy on all sides. *Brooks and I had problems with this step and our chicken didn't turn out crispy at all, I'm sure due to something we screwed up...maybe our chicken wasn't dry enough, our oil not hot enough, not sure but it was still yummy. Add the chicken back into the sauce to coat, and serve with extra sauce for dipping.


Rander said...

When I make my Filipino adobo, I usually do not marinate it (I do not taste a difference) or fry it. I just braise it until it falls off the bone. (1-3 hours).

It'll cut the total time quite a bit. :)

jackerypyro said...

Traditionally Filipino adobo is simply a mixture of water, vinegar, soy sauce, and a bay leaf. The meat is never fried and like the previous commenter said it is braised for a considerable amount of time. I've tried more complex recipes and have found that the age old simple recipe always trumps the competition. Despite the name similarities, it has nothing to do with Mexican adobo (-:

JB said...

Stumbled onto your blog here, and almost blew orange juice out my nose reading Brooks' description of the dreaded Lemon Yogurt Chicken!

Martin Yan is a fine chef, but he isn't Filipino. I AM Filipino so take my word for it, Filipino Adobo does not contain cornstarch! Chef's Yan's being Chinese explains that little detail. Though ginger often figures in Filipino cuisine, we don't use it in adobo either. But don't worry, we won't take offense that you did :-) We would normally use palm vinegar or sugarcane vinegar, NOT rice vinegar. Brown sugar, please.

As is the case with a lot of dishes the world over, there are regional variations to Filipino adobo. Some do indeed dry it out to get it crunchy and use it as a rice topping. The Vinegar-soy proportions will also vary by region. I've also tried the Mexican version and liked it too. I still wonder about the identical names, as the dishes are so different.

Good luck to Brooks and the chicken adventures! I'm looking forward to more stories from you guys :-) Cheers!

annmariemarie said...

Well said, JB!

I was scouring the internet trying to figure out Chipotle's Chicken Bol (in adobo marinade)... so I landed here. Atleast now, I know, mexican adobo is totally different from ours. I like both, though.