Although I cook without meat a majority of the time, I am completely powerless when it comes to chicken thighs. Tender, juicy little pieces of meat on not-too-much bone, they’re virtually impossible to screw up — and even better, they’re almost always cheaper than other chicken pieces.
My favorite way to prepare chicken (or turkey) thighs is to make Filipino chicken adobo. There are about as many recipes for adobo as there are cooks, but they all rely on a combination of soy sauce, vinegar, and garlic, at least, and usually a little sugar, bay leaves and black pepper, too. After a fair amount of trial and error, here’s the recipe I use.
Chicken (or turkey or pork) adobo
Combine 1/2 cup mushroom soy sauce, 3/4 cup vinegar, 3 tablespoons honey, 3-5 cloves of minced garlic, 3-ish bay leaves, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper with 1.5 cups water. Bring to a boil and add 3 pounds chicken thighs. Cover, and reduce to a simmer, adding more water if needed to keep the meat covered. Simmer for about 30-40 minutes. Remove from the sauce and set aside. At this point, you can fish out the bay leaves and bring the liquid to a boil until it reduces by at least half. Set a grill (or frying) pan on medium-high heat and grill each piece, skin-side down, until the skin is crisped. The sugar helps caramelize the skin but it will also help it burn faster, so watch out. Serve (with a little of the reduced sauce) over white rice or shredded cabbage or whatever suits you.
Some notes: this recipe is based on what I usually have on hand. The mushroom soy sauce isn’t exactly traditional, but because it’s so thick and dark, you can use much less and get the same result that you’d get with about a cup of regular soy sauce. I usually use cider or rice vinegar, but I’ve used red wine or even plain white vinegar in a pinch (just don’t use balsamic) and swap in any other sugar for the honey. (You could also use boneless and/or skinless thighs, but… meh.) Oh, and definitely make the whole three pounds of chicken because the leftovers are heavenly.
Kinda gruesome, isn’t it?
A ham hock is the end of a smoked ham where the foot was attached to the hog’s leg. It is the portion of the leg that is neither part of the ham proper nor the foot or ankle, but rather the extreme shank end of the leg bone and the associated skin, fat, tendons, and muscle. This piece generally consists of too much skin and gristle to be palatable on its own, so it is usually cooked with greens and other vegetables in order to give them additional flavor (generally that of pork fat and smoke), although the meat from particularly meaty hocks may be removed and served.
I’d like to say I bought ham hocks because I’m embracing the Fergus Henderson idea of nose-to-tail eating, but it was mostly out of a morbid curiosity. I got them from FreshDirect and after a couple of days of them freaking me out every time I looked into the fridge, I stuffed them in the freezer and forgot about them.
Then I wanted to make some beans.