I had never tried adobo with gata (coconut cream) and chilies before. Or at least I wasn’t consciously aware it was an adobo with gata. I love adobo, so I thought that was a bit odd. Into the kitchen and I cooked chicken adobo with gata TWICE in less than a week and have really taken to it — a classic sour/salty garlicky chicken now with a layer of slightly sweet creamy texture… with chili to boot!
Here’s the current version of the recipe I have been working with. Ideally, you should brine your chicken parts for about 3-4 hours before you start this recipe. If you’re in a hurry, you may choose to skip that step. Next, in a large pan, add 3-4 tablespoons of lard or vegetable oil and put the heat up to medium high. Brown two kilos of chicken parts that have been blotted dry with paper towels, in several batches so as not to “crowd” the pan. Remove the browned chicken and place it on a dish for a few minutes until all the chicken is browned. The pan will now have quite a bit of lard/chicken fat in it — drain all but 2 tablespoons of the fat and turn the heat to medium. Add some 6-10 smashed cloves of garlic (more if you desire) and stir for a minute or so until fragrant, then add the browned chicken parts, about 3/4 cup of cider vinegar, a little less than 1/2 cup of dark soy sauce, about 1 tablespoon of whole black peppercorns, 5-6 small dried bay leaves and let this come to a boil for about 5 minutes WITHOUT stirring the pot. After the five minutes, try to stir the chicken pieces so everything gets bathed in the sauce. Next add about 2 cups of freshly squeezed coconut milk and two finger chilies chopped into 3-4 pieces each. You may want to add more chilies to your desired level of spiciness.
Let this all gurgle for about 15 minutes more until the sauce thickens, then serve hot, garnished with some young garlic chives (because I happened to have them) or fresh sprigs of coriander. If you want to add some boiled eggs, add them (peeled) to the adobo about 5 minutes before turning off the heat. I find that the chicken pieces lose moisture into this “stew” hence my suggestion you serve this freshly cooked rather than hours later. The flavor is classically adobo in nature, but the richness and smoothness of the coconut cream with the hint OR hit of chilies makes it more interesting, complex and delicious. It reminds me a bit of a curry, but not quite. And you will absolutely need a phenomenal amount of steamed rice and perhaps a fresh salsa of tomatoes on the side. Enjoy!