It’s no secret that I have a thing for bold, spicy flavors. I blame my Native Texan roots. I mean, when you have access to just about every variety of chile around all the time, how can you not love the punch and character they bring? Especially in big chile-centric dishes such as mole, a big bowl of Texas Red, or even enchiladas. But now, I have added another chile-ful dish to our menu: a Mexican adobo.
Adobo takes on a lot of different personalities depending on the origination of the dish. Simply put, adobo is a marinade that has roots in Spanish cuisine, originally consisting of paprika, oregano, salt, garlic and vinegar. However, there are variations – Filipino adobo, for example, is vastly different than Puerto Rican adobo, and both are different than a Mexican adobo. In the latter version, a combination of chiles are used. The key here is that the sauce created is used as a marinade.
I was craving some comfort food in a major way, and while even a simple roast chicken is comforting to me, dishes with heat seem to be on the top of the list in terms of that comfort factor. This dish definitely fit the bill. The sauce wasn’t overly spicy, but gave enough heat to warm the body (and the soul). The chicken was succulent and full of flavor. I opted to serve it with rice and refried pinto beans, but some gluten-free tortillas would certainly have been welcome to help sop up the sauce.
The beauty of this adobo lies in the ability to customize it to your liking. Not a big fan of heat? Lower or omit the number of chipotle and ancho chiles and sub with milder chiles, such as guajillo. Want more burn? Just up the chipotles, or even add in a fresh jalapeno or two. It’s all up to you, but really, you must try an adobo for yourself!
Roast Chicken Adobo (gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, refined sugar-free)
6 dried ancho chiles, seeds and stems removed
2-3 dried chipotle chiles, seeds and stems removed
6 cloves garlic
1 ½ c chicken stock
½ c chopped green onions – white and green parts
2 t honey
¼ c red wine vinegar
1 orange, peeled and seeded
2 T fresh lime juice
1 t ground cumin
2 t fresh thyme leaves
1 T fresh oregano leaves
1 t kosher salt, plus more for seasoning chicken
One 4 lb chicken, backbone removed and cut in half
Chopped cilantro, for garnish
Place the chiles in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer and allow to simmer for 30-40 minutes, making sure the chiles are submerged, until they are thoroughly softened.
Place soaked chiles, garlic, chicken stock, onions, honey, red wine vinegar, orange, lime juice, cumin, thyme, oregano and salt in a blender. Puree, scraping down sides as needed, until completely smooth. Place the chicken halves and the marinade in either a large Ziploc bag or other large dish and coat the chicken completely with the marinade, making sure to massage the marinade under the skin of the chicken. Allow to marinate, refrigerated, at least 6 hours, turning once or twice.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Remove the chicken halves from the marinade and place breast-side up in a cast iron skillet. Season with a bit of additional salt. Pour at least another cup or two of the marinade (enough to come up around the meat about an inch or so) around the chicken. Place in the oven and roast for 20 minutes.
Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Roast for an additional 30-40 minutes, basting every 10 minutes or so with the sauce surrounding the chicken, until a thermometer inserted in the deepest part of the thigh reads 160 degrees. Allow to rest for 10-15 minutes before serving. Garnish with cilantro and serve.