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Adobo with Collard Greens
Being part Filipina, I grew up on Adobo. If you haven't heard of it, it is a savory and tangy Filipino soupy stew usually made with pork or chicken. It is a very unique tasting dish because it includes 2 ingredients that I normally wouldn't put together: soy sauce and vinegar.
I think Adobo is a very personalized dish. It can taste pretty different depending on who makes it. I loved the way my mom made it while I was growing up. My dad called it light Adobo. She added less soy sauce and vinegar than is traditionally used, so the salty and tart tastes are a little more toned down. She made it with chicken. And I loved the delicious chicken flavor and juices that permeated the stew, undominated by the soy and vinegar.
I tend to make it a little more potent than the way my mom made it. I also use apple cider vinegar (a tip from my Grandma, and I love it that way). Apple cider vinegar, especially the cloudy kind, with the "mother", has lots of extra nutrients in it. And I think it also lends a more sophisticated flavor to the adobo.
As for the meat, I usually alternate between chicken and pork. For chicken, I typically use chicken leg quarters. But if you like chicken breast meat, by all means, sub that in. For pork, I usually use country style ribs. These come pretty fatty, so I cut off the large chunks of the fat, then chop up the rest of the pork into about 2-inch pieces.
My mom also added potatoes to this saucy stew. Adding potatoes, however, is not a traditionally Filipino way to prepare adobo. I think it is a cooking relic of her japanese culture. But it is a great addition to this dish. I love hearty stews that have lots of different interesting vegetables. I prefer using baby reds, cut in half, in my adobo.
Even with the non-traditional addition of potatoes, I still felt that adobo needed more texture, fiber, and color. I thought about the salty and vinegary flavor of adobo and tried to imagine what other vegetable would meld into this stew with everything else. I remembered how I've had delicious collard greens with vinegar. I thought the meaty flavor of this stew along with the vinegar would suit the collards nicely. And it did. It came out heavenly. The thick leafy green collards absorb the savory sauce so perfectly and complements the rest of the dish as they disperse into the meat and potatoes, adding texture and interest. I love adobo with collards. It feels complete this way.
Adobo can take a while to simmer to get all the flavors to come up nicely. I used to let it go for about an hour. But recently, my husband ordered an Instant Pot Multifunctional Cooker. This is a very interesting cooking appliance that can do many different things. It can be a pressure cooker as well as a slow cooker, plus a bunch of other things. I have put the adobo together in the Instant Pot the early afternoon and come home later in the evening to a nicely simmered stew. But if I wanted the adobo quickly, I could just change the setting to pressure cooker and have a nicely "simmered" stew ready in 15 minutes.
I don't eat white sticky rice as much as I did growing up. But I do eat it with adobo. Sticky rice can be bland. But with the adobo sauce poured on top, it is scrumptious. The sticky, clumpy texture of the rice loosens up under this sauce and the bland flavor of the rice balances out the tanginess of the apple cider vinegar in the sauce. And the little pieces of collard greens that make there way onto the rice is a wonderful addition to the texture. I think a hearty slice of sour dough bread would also be a nice side for adobo.
Here is the recipe:
Tailor this recipe to your own liking. As I said earlier, everyone's adobo tastes a little different. My dad says he likes to use sushi vinegar as the vinegar portion. Sushi vinegar can be found at your local Japanese store, and maybe even at certain grocery stores. Sushi vinegar has sugar in it and would add a little sweetness to your adobo. If you like sweet sauces like teriyaki, it might be something to try.
If you don't have an Instant Pot, you can still make this recipe by simmering it in a large pot for an hour, or using a regular pressure cooker, or a slow cooker or crockpot.
Browsing the produce section of the grocery store, a netted bag of colorful fingerling potatoes caught my eye. I thought these might add a fun and interesting to look to my Adobo. So I threw these little (about 1 inch) potatoes whole into the Instant Pot along with all the other goodies. (Except I forgot to buy collards.)
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