12: Filipino Chicken Adobo Over Fresh Greens — Cooking with Les Dames D’Escoffier
Are Les Dames D’Escoffier:
a) “a girl group and dance ensemble, founded as a burlesque troupe with a repertoire of 1950s and 1960s popular music standards while dressed in lingerie or old-fashioned pin-up costumes”
b) “three women working in a private detective agency in Paris, recruited to work for L’Agence de Charles Townsend as private investigators”
c) “a leadership culinary organization composed of women who have not only achieved success in their profession, but who contribute significantly to their communities”
OK, the first is apparently the genesis of the Pussycat Dolls, and the second is just Charlie’s Angels in France, so it’s no big surprise that Les Dames D’Escoffier is a society of culinary queens. And that’s the topic du jour, because…
The Assignment: Filipino Chicken Adobo Over Fresh Greens, from Cooking with Les Dames D’Escoffier: At Home with the Women Who Shape the Way We Eat and Drink, edited by Marcella Rosene with Pat Mozersky
I got this book probably around the time it came out, roughly 10 years ago. Why wouldn’t I? It’s stuffed with recipes from the legends: Julia Child, Marcella Hazan, Alice Waters, Lidia Bastianich, Dorie Greenspan, Susan Feniger — that’s gold straight from the gold fountain, y’all. So I got the book, intent to soak up all its knowledge. What did I do with it?
Cookbooks have changed a lot in the last 10 years, which I affirm as one who’s been working on cookbooks for the last 10 years. At the time this book came out, it was fully common to only have a couple photo inserts, featuring glossy pictures of a few select recipes. Did we get pictures of everything? No, we enjoyed what we got and we were grateful for it!* Then food bloggers blew up, and eventually cookbooks evolved to keep up with the Instagramification of the recipe-creating world, lest they be deemed just not worth the cash.
This book is from before that time. Which is fine; just don’t grab it and wail “BUT WHAT IS ZAZU’S BACKYARD GARDEN FATTOUSH SUPPOSED TO LOOK LIKE.”
The Recipe (directly from the book, which you may want to buy):
This is a recipe from Dame Sharon Kobayashi, a chef and restaurant owner in Honolulu. Kobayashi started as a biologist, then pivoted to study at the Culinary Institute of the Pacific and moved on to a career in food. Chicken adobo is a traditional Filipino dish, but this is a bit of a twist on it. And after last week’s twist on a traditional Korean dish ended in relative disaster, I just wanted to take a moment now and reassure everyone that this was/is not going to be another round of poorly-tested, over-confident nonsense. This is a Dame’s recipe, y’all.
Things to Note About the Recipe:
The intro copy (the part I have blocked out because I don’t want to get into copyright trouble) indicates that this dish frequently was often served as the family meal at Kobayashi’s restaurant, Latitude 22, meaning this was the kind of dish made to feed, sustain, and please the whole kitchen staff. Traditional versions don’t have the fresh greens or avocado added, but they feel like a very modern and appropriate way to serve this hearty dish.
“Did you have problems with this dish?” Nah. Nope. This was an easy one to make and a well thought out recipe. I was even able to use my leftover cooked rice from the bibimbaffle debacle**. I did end up adding a good deal of additional salt and pepper to get the final seasoning just so, but that’s noted in the recipe (“plus additional as needed”).
How did it taste?
I loooooove me some chicken adobo. I’m a vinegar freak, so when I saw this recipe in the book, I went “BOOM, that’s the one that I want.” (Hoo hoo hoo HONEY!) It’s good! That said, if you’re NOT a vinegar freak like me… you’ll probably still be down with this recipe. Personally, I wish it had more of the tanginess I crave; I like it when my tastebuds are left ringing. This, by contrast, is a pleasantly mellow chicken adobo, a bit more universal in its flavor appeal. I didn’t add the optional additional balsamic, though, so maybe that’s on me.
PAUSE. SMASH CUT TO 24 HOURS LATER, WHEN I AM SICK AND EATING LEFTOVERS
Y’all. This is kind of a perfect sick food. I don’t even mind that it’s not so tangy anymore; it’s tangy enough for my infirmed taste buds. The flavor has developed a bit more, the garlic level is delightful, and the sauce has is the perfect balance of salt, fat, and acid. Eating this up with some rice and wilted greens is just what my mouth and body want right now. The beans and mushrooms gobble up flavor and become fully addictive. The avocado is semi-unnecessary but still nice; the raw red onion, however, is a must. The perfect fresh, crunchy bite to finish it all off.
Would I make this again?
Yeah. I’m gonna want this any time I’m sick. Unfortunately, there’s no way I’d want to cook this while sick; it’s not terribly complicated, but I really don’t want to do shit when I have a cold. Here’s the trick: Right when you get that tickle in your throat, the one you know is probably not just from sleeping with your face under the air-conditioner, hit the store, grab your ingredients, and put a pot on. By the time you are for-real sick, this dish will be just right.***
Do I recommend this cookbook?
It’s not a hard yes, but it’s also not a hard no. What I WOULD recommend? Study these women and their work. Buy their books. Support women chefs.
What’s the next recipe I want to make from this book?
Creamy Feta Potatoes from D.C.’s 1789 Restaurant, by Ris Lacoste. Because UNFFF, that sounds bomb. Hmmm… Thanksgiving, anyone?
… I really want the rest of the leftovers right now. I’m not even hungry. It just tastes perfect to my big sick head right now.
One more damn recipe done…
* Except when we flat out didn’t make anything from the book until 10 years later
** (Now in stores everywhere, Dr. Seuss’s lost masterpiece, The Bibimbaffle Debacle!)
*** Either that, or find someone who loves you enough to make it for you