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Adobo Chicken with Bacon and Bay Leaves from Chef Paul Qui. And an Asian-inflected Tomato and Burrata Salad

Adobo Chicken with Bacon and Bay Leaves from Chef Paul Qui. And an Asian-inflected Tomato and Burrata Salad
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I’ve been wanting to make this classic Filipino chicken dish forever.  Especially after I went to Kalystyans (www.kalustyans.com123 Lexington Avenue NY NY 10016 Tel 212-685 3451) and spent an unspeakable amount of money for a jar of Adobo seasoning.  Once I got home, I realized that Goya makes a superb version for about ¼ the price I paid for at Kalustyan’s .  Ah well.  That only made me more anxious to use my hyper-priced version. Fortunately, Food and Wine magazine arrived and in it was my longed-for recipe. Better yet, it was from Chef Paul Qui, winner of Top Chef Season 9.


        If you watched even one episode of the show, Paul Qui was hard to miss.  His amazing smile brightened the kitchen as did everything Chef Qui made.  Now back in Austin, TX, he runs 4 kitchens and calls his empire “East Side King”. (And you have trouble getting dinner on the table…)   Two of these are food trucks, “The Grackle” and “The Hole in the Wall”, two are sit down restaurants called “Liberty Bar” and “Shangri-La”.  The man has his hands full.  But according to Food and Wine, he’s still prepared to come home to his girlfriend / manager and cook a complete dinner at 1 am.          
      Now obviously at that hour the preparation is going to have to be swift which attracted me mightily to his recipe for Adobo Chicken.  And with it, I wanted to serve something not the least bit Filipino or even Asian. I’d bought a couple of boules of Burrata, the intensely creamy centered version of Mozzarella that we cannot get enough of.  Somehow I’d forgotten I had it and really wanted to eat it that very night.  So I worked up an Asian dressing, added it to my familiar Burrata and tomato mixture and I had a hit on my hands.   However, my adobo seasoning was gilding the lily, or in this case, the chicken.
Adobo, the seasoning.
The word “Adobo” comes from the Spanish adobar, which literally means “to marinate”.  In Latin America and the Caribbean, it is an all-purpose seasoning made up of garlic, oregano, black pepper and turmeric.  Other spices can be added and often are depending on which region the adobo finds itself in.   However, when you get to the Philippines, ruled as it was for 400 years by Spain, the name Adobo refers to the dish itself, not just the seasoning.  It means any meat or fish that’s been marinated in garlic, soy sauce, and vinegar.  That still left me with an entire jar of Abobo, the seasoning.   So I used it just as I would have in Latin America or the Caribbean.  I rubbed the uncooked chicken with it.  The deep flavors permeated the meat and the skin, adding to the rich broth the chicken cooks in.  And Adobo wasn’t my only discovery this go-round.  Paul Qui’s recipe called for Coconut Vinegar.  Lo and behold, I found a bottle of it at Whole Foods.           
        It’s made from the sap of the Coconut Tree.  While I can’t say there’s a huge coconut flavor attached to the vinegar, it is sharper than cider vinegar. Its package claims its more nutritious, gluten-free and “an abundant source of 17 amino acids, minerals, vitamin C and B vitamins”.  Since the recipe only contains all of a ¼ cup plus two tablespoons of the stuff, you may be forgiven for using good old apple cider vinegar instead.   There’s not a lot of time involved here. Only an hour, half of which is watching the chicken stew away in the oven. That’s plenty of time to make the Burrata and Tomato Salad.         
One of the great strides in winter vegetables has to be the number of excellent mini tomato varieties that crowd the produce section of the market.   Whether grape tomatoes, or cherry tomatoes, or something called mini heirlooms, there’s no excuse for not enjoying the incomparable flavor of tomatoes year round.  I slice mine in half, if cherry or grape varieties, in quarters for the bigger Comparis from Canada.   To pair with the Asian flavors of the chicken, I made a variation using rice vinegar, ginger and soy sauce.  The real key to the Asian flavor is the sesame oil.  It makes it seem very authentic.  Make this up in a batch in a 12 to 16 oz. jar and you’ll find yourself opting for Asian dressing often.  Here are the recipes:
Make the Asian Vinaigrette
Prep: 5 minutes Total Time: 5 minutes  Makes 1 cup dressing
¼ cup rice vinegar
1½ Tbsp. soy sauce
¾ cup salad oil (see note)
2 Tbsp. sesame oil
½ Tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
½ clove garlic, crushed
Dash of Sriracha chili sauce (i.e. “Rooster” sauce)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Place all the ingredients in a glass or stainless steel bowl and whisk them together thoroughly. Or, mix the ingredients in a blender for about 10 seconds or until fully combined.
Transfer to a glass bowl and let stand for 30 minutes to let the flavors meld. Give the dressing a good whisk immediately before serving.
Assemble the Burrata and Tomato Salad
1 8 oz boule of Burrata Cheese
1 lb, small tomatoes, grape, cherry or “Compari” sizes or a mixture
Cut tomatoes in half or quarters depending on size.
Toss in Asian vinaigrette.  Plate tomatoes. Divide Burrata evenly and top tomatoes with it.  Sprinkle Sea Salt over Tomatoes and Burrata. (I used Black Hawaiian sea salt. 

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