My family moved from the Philippines to Boston in 2000, and our go-to dish, like so many other Filipinos living abroad, is adobo. It does not matter that the dish takes hours to cook and the smell of it stays in the apartment complex for days – it brings us a taste of home. All Filipino families each have their own recipes for adobo. Basically, it is any meat or any combination of meats that is braised and simmered in vinegar, soy sauce, lots of garlic, black peppercorn, and bay leaves. Every family claims that their version is the best. Of course, that cannot be true since my family’s version is the best.
That was my blurb for Molly O’Neill’s One Big Table, where my recipe for pork and chicken adobo was featured. Adobo is the national dish of the Philippines. I love adobo, especially my family’s version, but I rarely make it myself. I always come up with several excuses: it takes too long to cook, it’s not that healthy, I can’t find the right cuts of pork, etc etc. But really the main reason is that I am almost intimidated by it; I’m scared I won’t do it justice, and that it won’t be up to par with my food-loving family’s dishes.
But I’ve been getting more and more questions from friends and readers why I don’t have any Filipino recipes on my blog (short answer: the Filipino dishes I like are labor intensive and I’m too lazy) and lately, I’ve been craving adobo like no other. The cold weather is making me want comfort food. And what better comfort food is there than a recipe that has been with your family for decades, a dish that ties a nation together, something that reminds me of home sweet home?
So today my dear readers, I would like to share my recipe for Pork and Chicken Adobo. I hope it brings you some warmth, some love, and some happiness. From my family to yours:
FILIPINO PORK AND CHICKEN ADOBO
2 lbs bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1 lb pork belly
1 1/4 cup white vinegar
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup water
10 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tablespons olive oil
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
6 dried bay leaves
Put the chicken, pork, vinegar, soy sauce, bay leaves, and seven of the smashed garlic cloves in a shallow pot over medium heat. Add one cup water, plus more oif necessary, to barely cover the meat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and summer for 1 hour.
Use slotted spoons to remove the chicken and pork and set aside. Allow the broth to continue simmering. Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the rest of the garlic. Pat the pork and chicken dry and sear each piece in the olive oil on all sides until golden brown. Return the chicken and pork to the pot, reduce the sauce by simmering for another hour to half an hour, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens.
Adobo is traditionally served with white rice (or better yet, garlic fried rice).
Some notes: this recipe is slightly modified from the original recipe that appeared in One Big Table. Also, the pork belly will render a lot of fat, so make sure to skim off the fats and clear juice that rise up to the top. I probably skimmed off more than a cup’s worth. And two things I implore you to follow: use whole peppercorns, and please, use whole garlic cloves – not the chopped up garlic in jars. These two ingredients will make your adobo taste richer and of course, more authentic.
When I spoon some of the the brown garlicky sauce over the meats and some rice, I am transported back to my family’s dinner table. It is, truly, a taste of home.
There are many variations of adobo, and depending on the region in the Philippines, it is cooked very differently: some use pork and beef, some just plain chicken, and some even use squid. Some add coconut milk, while others add hard boiled eggs. Some omit the soy sauce completely, while other recipes call for fish sauce. Some families make their versions more sauce-y, while other are drier. There are also wonderful vegetarian adobo recipes using green beans (adobong sitaw) and water spinach (adobong kangkong).
And now for the giveaway!
I am going to send one of you a copy of Molly O’Neill’s One Big Table! I have not been compensated in any way for this – I just feel like sharing something I love :) All you have to do to enter the giveaway is leave a comment below telling me what is your favorite family recipe. I will pick the winner next Sunday. Good luck!