Adobo is often called the national dish of the Philippines. The preparation is endlessly adaptable, and nearly every Philippine cook prepares adobo in a slightly different way. Though some add soy sauce to deepen the color of the dish, we followed Lucia Mallari's method, which omits that ingredient. Philippine cooks favor mild-tasting vinegars made from coconut or palm sugar; we found that white wine vinegar makes a fine substitute.
- 4 chicken thighs (about 1 lb.)
- 4 chicken legs (about 1 lb.)
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 14 cloves garlic, slivered
- 1 2⁄3 cups coconut, palm, or white wine vinegar
- 2 tsp. whole black peppercorns
- 10 bay leaves
- Steamed long-grain white rice (optional)
Place chicken thighs and legs on a cutting board and, using a heavy cleaver, cut each piece in half crosswise, through the bone. (Alternatively, leave the chicken pieces whole.) Sprinkle chicken pieces generously with salt and place in a 14" nonstick skillet. Add garlic to skillet along with vinegar, peppercorns, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil over high heat; stir briefly, then lower heat and simmer, basting chicken occasionally with liquid, until meat is cooked through and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 40 minutes.
Increase heat to medium-high. Continue to cook chicken, turning it frequently, until crisp and lightly browned all over, 6-8 minutes. Transfer chicken to a platter and serve with steamed white rice, if you like.