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Bittman Chicken Adobo - Wow

Preface by saying I have never eaten this dish but numerous threads on Chowhound gave me interest. Mrs Jfood gave me Bittman's How to Cook Everything book for father's day and he had a recipe. So I gave it a try.

This dish is delicious and a no brainer. Four ingredients into a pot, boil, add chicken, relax, chicken out and onto the grill, high heat and done.

I first tried the leg and wow, went for a thigh and had double-wow. Now the true test, a piece of breast. Even though is was cook in liquid it was succulent and flavorful.

I did use low sodium soy instead of regular and it was more than enough, and i would HIGHLY recommend not using full stregth soy.

Anything else in Bittman's book that is a must make?


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  1. I made the pork potsticker recipe from that book (I love that book) and they came out great.

    I also made his Caesar dressing and didn't like it so much. I needed to doctor it quite a bit to get it right (in my opinion).

    I really need to start working my way through the book.

    1. I rarely use the book, and the couple times I have, I didn't have remarkable results.

      The one recipe I use all the time is the recipe for popovers. I've adjusted the recipe based on chowhounds' suggestions--I now dust the tin with grated parmesan, and I don't turn the heat down until at least 20 minutes into baking (crispier that way).

      1. Believe it or not, the succotash recipe is really really good, p. 579. I don't normally eat lima beans but found this as one of the variations following the recipe for steamed limas. I use frozen limas and corn and it is still delicious. It's the addition of cream (I use half and half and it works just fine), cayenne, and freshly chopped parsely that set this dish above.

        1. I like the herb roasted chicken cutlets- good over jasmine rice.

          1. I've been experimenting with various Chicken Adobo recipes that I got off the web and they all say either to brown the chicken first, or not to brown it at all, so grilling at the end is new to me. Did you use a separate grill, or use your oven? TIA

            12 Replies
            1. re: efdee

              I use his variations and ideas for sauteed boneless chicken breasts. Very handy on a weeknight.

              1. re: efdee

                First time i have ever seen this process except for hot dogs, boil first then grill so i was a little skeptical.

                If you saute first then braise the skin will come out soggy. This way I took the soggy skin threw it on my Weber grill and crisped it up. Nice process with great results.

                1. re: efdee

                  We had a Filipina housekeeper years ago who browned the chicken (in a pan on the stove) AFTER the chicken was simmered in the adobo ingredients. I believe this method is the authentic way to make chicken/pork adobo.

                  1. re: FlavoursGal

                    Do you think that broiling would work for the grill-challenged?

                    1. re: efdee

                      I think you might have misinterpreted my post. My Filipina housekeeper browned the chicken in a pan on the stove, not on the grill. I think this method would be best, since chicken adobo does not traditionally have a grilled flavour.

                      I've edited my original post to be more accurate in the cooking method for browning.

                      1. re: FlavoursGal

                        Thank you, FlavoursGal, for clarifying. I will try that method next time.

                      2. re: efdee

                        I'm here to report that broiling worked great! (and I'm a grill only gal, though it's too cold in upstate NY to bring out the grill yet)

                        I made it a couple nights ago and it was fab. Who woulda thought that so few ingredients could produce something much tastier than its few parts? I was thinking of jazzing up w/ ginger, sesame, etc. but decided to try recipe as written, and I will be making this regularly. Oh, and I used natural, free-range chicken parts -- thighs and legs.

                        1. re: NYchowcook


                          Interestingly when i bought the ingredients at the grocer i threw ginger in the cart, thinking it was in the recipe, so i agree that some ginger is going in next time. The aroma will be great in the house as well. On the parts of the chicken. I do like dark meat better and i will probably grab thighs and legs the next time as well. Thx for agreeing I was getting nervous that i was waaaaay off base. whew!!

                          1. re: NYchowcook

                            I haven't pulled out Bittman's book (it's hidden way back in my cookbook collection, gathering dust - I have an axe to grind regarding his dissemination of quite a bit of inaccurate culinary advice and information) to check, but does the recipe have you reduce the sauce while the chicken is searing? This is one of the procedures in an authentic adobo - one wants a syrupy sauce.

                            1. re: FlavoursGal

                              basically, throw soy, vinegar, garlic and water in a pot, add chicken, simmer for thirty, grill for five to crisp. While grilling reduce broth to sauce. No searing pre-simmer.

                              1. re: jfood

                                Thanks, jfood. I meant searing/browning post-simmer.

                                1. re: FlavoursGal

                                  My pleasure.

                                  So to the answer your questions, the ingredients start at 2.5 cups and the final reduction suggests 1.0 cup. Searing/browning/grilling occurs post bath.

                    2. I made the chicken adobo tonight...I didn't really like it at all! It was just boring and the sauce (the reduced soy, and yes I used low-sodium!, vinegar and garlic) was way too strong. I served it on the side and I'm glad I did.

                      I don't know if I've ever liked anything from the Bittman book, although there are many recipes in it I want to try. His pad thai recipe is awful.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: smittys

                        Sorry you did not enjoy. The wide variance between the chicken and the strong flavor of the sauce is what I found so striking.

                        1. re: smittys

                          absolutely agree with your assessment of the Bittman Pad Thai...what was he thinking!??!!

                        2. After years of using Bittman's books and reading his weekly columns in the NYT, I hvae figured out that he is best with simple, straightforward recipes. He is never good with Asian recipes of any kind -- they always taste inauthentic and like a dumbed-down version of the real thing. But for simple American cooking, he's great. His roast chicken is fabulous. Same with pan-grilled pork chops, and any of his quick shrimp recipes. His pancakes are great. I think you just have to know what to use him for and when to look elsewhere.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: starfish

                            I made the pan-grilled pork chops last night with a shallot-garlic sauce and they were great.
                            My problem is I'm reading this book like an actual book before cooking out of it. I just need to get down and do the cooking.

                          2. Am I the only person that finds the cooking times in HTCE to be often understated? I do love the cookbook, but I often find myself cooking things longer than he recommends to get them "done."