Who doesn’t love adobo? Would it still be possible to improve on something already so well-loved by many? That’s something certainly worth trying.
An adobo is basically a stew of meat or poultry in a vinegar-based sauce. All we know of stewing is that while it may be an effective technique for tenderizing and forcing flavor into tough cuts of meat, it is a rigid cooking method that causes delicate proteins(such as chicken) to lose too much moisture into the stewing broth.
This sous vide attempt forces that familiar adobo flavor into our chicken while keeping it perfectly moist and tender.
Let’s begin with a marinade. Nothing too fancy, just the traditional soy sauce, white vinegar, garlic, black peppercorns, salt, and bay leaf. I did add some Worcestershire sauce for a deeper fermented flavor, and some molasses for some sweetness and a deeper brown color.
Stir all the ingredients and get it into a sous vide bag together with those chicken pieces to marinate overnight. This marination phase would ensure that you’ll get that adobo flavor deep into the chicken meat.
Get the water bath preheated to 165F.
Cook the chicken for 2 hours. After this time, the chicken would come out a bit undercooked – still a bit bloody actually. Don’t worry, this is how we want it for now so it’ll finish perfectly done after the final stage of broiling.
If you’ll be skipping the broiling phase in the end, which I know you wouldn’t, you’ll have to extend the sous vide poach for another hour.
Take the chicken out of the bag and set it on a colander or wire rack to completely drain. Let the chicken air-dry for about half an hour so it would crisp up better later. Adding a bit of salt at this point would also draw out excess moisture from the skin which could keep it from crisping up.
Shocking the chicken in an ice bath now would be advisable if you’re finishing it much later.
Meanwhile, take all the juices from the sous vide bag into a saucepan and reduce it down to intensify those flavors. You may totally adjust the flavor at this point, balancing sweet, tangy, and salty by playing with more soy sauce, vinegar, or sugar. This is entirely up to personal preference.
Once the chicken pieces have dried up nicely, set them on a baking pan and brush the skins with some oil. Any oil will help those skins brown and crisp up. Butter will of course, give it a deeper brown. If working with butter, though, go for clarified as those milk solids in solid butter will give you a less crispy crust.
Have we improved on something already good? I honestly believe so. More intense adobo flavor, meat that is exceptionally moist, and a beautifully crisp skin.
Is this how adobo should be prepared from now on? I’ll just have to say that while this is better by a large margin, I still do love the classic!