During the cooking class he conducted recently at the Makati Shangri-La hotel, executive sous chef Gene del Prado taught us more than the four recipes listed in the syllabus. He showed us, for instance, how to make achuete oil for pancit palabok, and how to cook lechon kawali without the potentially skin-burning effect of deep-frying the slab of pork.
Learning some of his cooking techniques was informative. I was especially fascinated by his recipe for boneless chicken adobo. I usually avoid cooking chicken adobo because tenderizing the chicken in the mixture of vinegar and soy sauce can scatter tiny bits of chicken bones in the sauce, which can be dangerous, as they can be inadvertently swallowed by diners.
Deboning the chicken solves that problem.
Chef Gene’s recipe is also simple and easy. Just marinate the chicken in the sauce at least one hour (though overnight is better so the chicken absorbs the flavor of the marinade). Then, about an hour before being served, brown the garlic and simmer the chicken in its own marinade.
He recommends browning the chicken in corn oil after it has been simmered—by its very nature, he says, adobo must contain some oil and fat.
However, if you’re in a hurry, you can serve the chicken right after it’s been simmered and cooked. It will still taste delicious.
Here’s chef Gene’s recipe:
Boneless chicken ‘adobo’
Remove the bones from the chicken legs or thighs and discard the bones. If using large chicken thighs, slice each thigh in half. Combine vinegar, soy sauce, bay leaves, sugar and peppercorns. Pour over the chicken. Let the chicken marinate in the mixture for at least one hour (keep in refrigerator if marinating longer).
Heat 1 tbsp of the corn oil in a large sauté pan or casserole. Sauté the garlic until it turns light brown in color. Pour in the chicken and the marinade. Bring to a boil then lower heat to a simmer. Let simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked and tender.
Remove the chicken from the pan but leave the sauce in the pan. In a frying pan, pour in the remaining ¼ c corn oil and brown the chicken pieces quickly, removing each piece as it browns.
Add the dissolved cornstarch to the sauce and bring to a simmer. Return the chicken to the sauce in the pan and heat through. Serve immediately.
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Chef Gene says chicken adobo must be eaten right after it’s been cooked. Otherwise the chicken will get mushy.
He adds the cornstarch just to thicken the sauce slightly. Only a small amount of cornstarch (1 tsp) dissolved in water is needed. It helps to hold the sauce together and keeps it from spreading when put on a plate.
Because of the vinegar, use only nonreactive pans (not aluminum) for marinating and cooking the chicken.
You can use also use deboned chicken wings for this recipe.