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Cook’s Illustrated Filipino Chicken Adobo

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  • Cook’s Illustrated Filipino Chicken Adobo

    Filipino Chicken Adobo
    Adobo is the national dish of the Philippines, and chicken adobo is among the most popular. The dish consists of chicken simmered in a mixture of vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves, and black pepper. The problem with most recipes we found was that they were aggressively tart and salty. Our secret to taming both of these elements was coconut milk. The coconut milk’s richness tempered the bracing acidity of the vinegar and masked the briny soy sauce, bringing the sauce into balance.
    Recipe Image

    8 (5- to 7- ounce) bone-in chicken thighs, trimmed
    ⅓ cup soy sauce
    1 (13 1/2-ounce) can coconut milk
    cup cider vinegar
    8 garlic cloves, peeled
    4 bay leaves
    2 teaspoons pepper
    1 scallion, sliced thin

    SERVES 4
    Light coconut milk can be substituted for regular coconut milk. Serve this dish over rice.

    1. Toss chicken with soy sauce in large bowl. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.
    2. Remove chicken from soy sauce, allowing excess to drip back into bowl. Transfer chicken, skin side down, to 12-inch nonstick skillet; set aside soy sauce.
    3. Place skillet over medium-high heat and cook until chicken skin is browned, 7 to 10 minutes. While chicken is browning, whisk coconut milk, vinegar, garlic, bay leaves, and pepper into soy sauce.
    4. Transfer chicken to plate and discard fat in skillet. Return chicken to skillet skin side down, add coconut milk mixture, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Flip chicken skin side up and continue to cook, uncovered, until chicken registers 175 degrees, about 15 minutes. Transfer chicken to platter and tent loosely with aluminum foil.
    5. Remove bay leaves and skim any fat off surface of sauce. Return skillet to medium-high heat and cook until sauce is thickened, 5 to 7 minutes. Pour sauce over chicken, sprinkle with scallion, and serve.

    Balancing Act
    The two core components of Filipino adobo—vinegar and soy sauce—add up to a predictably sharp, salty braising liquid. To even out the acidity and salt, we took a cue from a regional variation and added a can of coconut milk. The thick, rich milk mellows those harsher flavors while still allowing for plenty of tanginess. It also adds welcome body to the sauce.