Recipe: Chicken Adobo Risotto

I have a few favorite dishes from my childhood, things that bring me comfort no matter what adulthood has thrown at me. Things like my grandma’s lumpia and my dad’s macaroni salad stand out in my memory. But my mom’s adobo is even more than that: its rich flavors, variety of textures, and piquant aroma are unmistakable, and I turn to that dish time and time again when cooking for those I love.

The first time I made this adobo for friends, I omitted the rice altogether because we were trying to be healthy, and thought we could eat the potatoes if they were our only starch. I also used chicken wings and drumettes because that’s what I had on hand, and a ton of black pepper because I didn’t have whole peppercorns. It was actually really appealing, even to their Western palates, and that gave me the courage to share my Filipino favorite with more people.

Screen Shot 2017-05-31 at 10.06.22 AM
Adobo chicken wings and potatoes, as though skipping the rice was somehow healthier…

I’ve made some adjustments over the years – browning the chicken and potatoes instead of frying them or taking out the potatoes altogether, adding vegetables as garnish, changing the vinegar from white to apple cider, etc. But none of my adjustments has changed the dish so much as my choice to substitute regular white rice for risotto or risotto-style riced cauliflower (as seen above).

This recipe will give you all the feel-goods, even if you choose the healthier option!



For the adobo:
2 lbs. chicken, boneless thighs if possible
3 pieces dried bay leaves
5 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cups water
1/4 cup cooking oil
1/2 tablespoon white sugar
Salt and whole peppercorn or fresh cracked pepper to taste
Grilled scallions or spring onions for garnish

For the risotto:
1 cup arborio rice
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1 medium onion, small dice
2 cups hot water

1. Cut chicken to the size you want to serve – I usually prefer large chunks – and brown in a medium saucepan with 2 tbsp. of the cooking oil.
2. Turn heat to medium and add in the rest of the oil, bay leaves, soy sauce, vinegar, and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until garlic starts to soften.
3. Pour in the water, sprinkle sugar on top, and stir until combined. Bring to a simmer, cover, let cook for about 10 minutes.
4. Begin the risotto in a large saucepan, or paella pan if you have one, by heating sesame oil to medium heat, then adding rice. Saute for two minutes, or until all grains are thoroughly coated with oil. Add in onion, continue sautéing.
5. Add in 1 cup hot water, stirring until liquid is absorbed. Pour in remaining cup of water, and keep stirring until it, too, is fully absorbed.
6. Adobo should be nearly cooked by now, so transfer 1 cup of that cooking liquid into rice and stir until absorbed. When that’s done, the rice should take on a light brown, shiny appearance, and it should look softer and cooked. Add in another 1/2 cup of adobo liquid, and stir some more.
7. Transfer chicken and the rest of the contents of the medium saucepan into the rice, and keep stirring until rice is soft and creamy in texture, usually another 5 minutes.
8. Spoon into bowls. Garnish with grilled spring onion and enjoy!

Note: If you choose to use riced cauliflower, please follow the below.

For riced cauliflower:
2 cups riced cauliflower (is using frozen, thaw first)
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1 medium onion, small dice

1. Heat large saucepan to medium, add sesame oil, cauliflower, and onion. Cook until onions are soft.
2. Add contents of chicken adobo saucepan and continue cooking on medium until chicken is fully cooked and cauliflower is soft.

Serves 2-4, depending on who’s eating 😉


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