I’m not going to show the final photos I took of this dish, because it is just a sticky, saucy, delicious mess. I’ll leave it with the cleaner looking photo of the chicken and onions, but know that after that point I covered this dish in the amazing sauce until it was unrecognizable and absolutely not pretty. But pretty is skin deep, and delicious is to the bone.
Again, this year was the summer of The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper. This is a famous Filipino dish, and I did use breasts instead of thighs (still cannot convince Adam that chicken thighs are worth considering). But the overnight marinading and the sweet and vinegary sauce are just pretty amazing, and this is a cuisine I haven’t tried before. I’m really glad I did.
1/4 cup soy sauce
10 large garlic cloves coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp fresh-ground black pepper
1-1/4 cups Filipino palm vinegar, cider vinegar, or white distilled vinegar ***I used cider vinegar
1 cup whole canned tomatoes with their liquid
2 bay leaves, broken
3 lbs. (about 8) bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs ***Still can’t convince Adam to try thighs, I did skin-on, bone-in breasts instead
Extra virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced thin
2 whole scallions sliced thin (optional)
The day before cooking the chicken, combine the soy sauce, garlic, black pepper, vinegar, tomatoes (break them up with your hands into the bowl), and bay leaves in a large bowl.
Add the chicken and make sure it’s almost completely submerged in the marinade. Cover it and refrigerate 18-24 hours.
To cook: Empty the chicken and all of the marinade into a pot (the book suggests a heavy 4-qt pot).
Bring it to a gentle bubble, cover it, and cook it for 25 minutes or until the temp in the center of a piece of chicken reads 175 degrees F. Use tongs to move the chicken to a plate. Skim as much fat as you can from the cooking liquid, increase the heat, and “start briskly boiling it.” Reduce it by half.
Meanwhile, rub some olive oil around a 12″ saute pan (“film it”) and heat it over medium-high heat. Add the chicken pieces skin side down in the pan and let them brown, adjusting the heat so it doesn’t burn.
When the chicken is “a deep, rich brown on one side,” (I probably could have left the chicken longer, if I’m honest) turn the pieces over and scatter the onions around them.
Keep browning and stirring the onions to prevent burning.
Transfer the chicken and onions to a serving bowl and pour the pan juices over them. Sprinkle with scallions if you’re using them, and enjoy.