(^^One of those times where I was too busy stuffing my face to worry about silly things like good photos^^)
I have lived in 7 different houses throughout the course of my childhood, and it just so happens that I have had the same set of neighbors in pretty much all of these locations. We haven’t tried to figure out the chicken-or-egg of who was following who around, but it does seem rather fishy how my family always ended up around the block or down the road or across the street from this family. Anyway, they also happen to be my godparents and I happen to be good friends with their kids, so its a win-win situation. They are half Filipino.
The other night I ate in their home for dinner, as I tend to do, and we ate a prince of a meal called chicken adobo. I was sitting there in awe of what was entering my mouth (and it wasn’t even the first time I had partaken of this delicate masterpiece), when Lola, the little grandmother chef-of-the-night came in. I asked her for her recipe and the gist of the whole thing is simply: Buy a chicken and cut it up and then stick it in a pot with equal parts soy sauce and vinegar. Throw in an onion and some garlic, bring it to a boil and then let it simmer away until the meat is falling off the bones and the chicken has had time to sit in the savory juices and absorb it all up unto itself. Then it’s your turn to absorb the chicken into your lucky little stomach. And in my case, as it was made by Lola, I know there was a lot of love thrown into the pot as well. Lola is quite an amazing woman with an unmistakable laugh that escapes her with (no joke) every sentence she speaks. She’s this steady, faithful and strong woman with a generous heart of gold. You’re lucky to have her recipe.
It is with utmost reverence to Lola and her years of cooking up delicious things that I present to you this Chicken Adobo.
1 free range organic chicken, cut into parts
2/3 cup soy sauce
2/3 cup vinegar
1 yellow onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic
2 cups basmati rice
Put everything in a pot (except the rice), bring to a boil and then let it simmer for about an hour. In a separate pot, cook the rice with 4 cups of water on low until moisture is fully absorbed.
When you can’t find the garlic cloves, look behind Marcus’s fishbowl. He’s sneaky like that and loves to hide the garlic. When everything is finished, the chicken will be extremely tender and well-marinated, and there will be lots of extra sauce in the pot. Serve the chicken over the rice and spoon extra juices on top.
“H is for happy and for what kind of dinner is most often just that evanescent, unpredictable, and purely heaven-sent thing” -M.F.K. Fisher
If there’s anything better than beautifully synchronized ingredients, it’s when they’re set to music. And this chicken is worth singing about. It comes out of the oven accompanied by gustatory wafts of fragrance, and the meat is so tender that it acquiesces to the knife without protest. So thank you to Simon and Garfunkel (and incidentally to Fiona Apple) for providing my inspiration and for suiting their tunes to this meal.
Simon and Garfunkel Chicken
1 free range chicken
1 handful of parsley, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
4 sprigs fresh sage
1 tbsp rosemary
8 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tsp hungarian paprika
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 375° Squeeze the juice of 2 lemons into the bottom of your roasting dish along with the olive oil. Rinse and dry the chicken after removing the gizzards, and lay in the dish. (In my case, the chicken was already cut). Slice the butter and lay the slices evenly over the chicken. Rub with the herbs so that they really coat the whole bird, and dust with paprika. Place the lemon rinds inside the chicken. They will help tenderize it while it cooks. Cook for an hour. Remove from the oven and spoon the liquid from the bottom of the dish over the chicken. Enjoy!
Sometimes in the quiet of the evening when its very cold outside and you’re very tired and when the world seems heavier than usual, the best thing to do is to keep busy and make a pot of hot soup. Maybe there really is something medicinal about it, not just in the steamy spoonfuls, but also in the preparation. The laying out and washing of the vegetables, the perfunctory repetition of the chopping on wooden cutting boards, the whispery snaps of the parsley and cilantro leaves being separated from their stems. This is not a soup that needs measurements or precision. It will take anything you have, and requires that your senses be the judge. If the smells are inviting and the broth is full-flavored and wholesome, and the stiff vegetables have yielded to release their bite, its time to fill your bowl. Pots of soup were being made since humans first walked the earth, and the world still turns.
Whatever is available.
In this case:
A few chicken bones and some chicken breast meat
2 tsp Hungarian paprika 🙂
1 tsp celery salt
2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp oregano
2 large carrots
1 can stewed tomatoes (you can use fresh, but the ones sold in wintertime do HUGE injustice to the perfection of the tomato when its in season)
small bunches of cilantro and parsley
3 big handfuls of kale
2 tsp salt, or however much you prefer
Put the chicken bones and meat into a pot of water and set on low heat. Chop the vegetables and add everything in. Let it simmer until the vegetables are tender.