Bacon’s Many Uses


Then there’s Task #386, Setting Smoothly Rich Background Music for Chicken Dishes.    Though today’s entry, Adobo Aromatic Chicken, is a Filipino poultry preparation, bacon infuses the chicken with its signature buttery smokiness when its fat is used to pan sear the bird initially.  After that, bacon itself makes an appearance just before serving, when it’s crumbled and added to the mix.

This leading presence is hardly surprising, when one considers the Philippine islands were part of the Spanish Empire for centuries.  The two countries were bound to have influenced each other’s cultures, culinary and otherwise.  Swine is central to both peoples’ cooking, and when a dish marries the two, as Adobo Chicken does, bacon inevitably will play a part.

Although the Spanish influence is undeniable, as the ingredients list includes molasses, bay leaves and sherry, and the name itself, adobo, is Spanish, it is, on balance, an Southeast Asian preparation.  Limes, soy sauce and ginger give the dish its tropical character, its soul.  Then there are the elements common to both cultures, like chicken, garlic and bacon.  Silky, smooth bacon.

It is this eclectic blend of culinary influences that distinguished the recipe when it appeared the September/October 2018 Taste of Home magazine.  These pages don’t dally much with ‘fusion’ cuisine, as too often it’s merely a contrivance, but Adobo Chicken speaks of centuries of shared history.  It provides perfect opportunity to explore Filipino cooking for the first time.

By the way, lime wedges are recommended as an accompaniment.  Make that more than a suggestion; adding freshly-squeezed lime juice elevates Adobo Chicken to near perfection.  Its sparkling freshness beautifully balances, and complements, the dish’s richness.

Bacon is only one ingredient among many in Adobo Chicken, but it gives the preparation its silkiness.  In fact, here’s another use for bacon – making ‘fusion’ cuisine worth pursuing for once.

*****

Filipino Adobo Aromatic Chicken

  • 8 bacon strips, chopped
  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 large onion, chopped (*1)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium limes, plus more for serving (optional)
  • 1/4 cup sherry
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 tablespoons minced ginger
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon freshly-ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili garlic sauce (*2)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped, for garnish

Using a grater or microplane, zest two limes, then juice them.  Set aside the zest and the juice for later use.

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon, stirring occasionally, until it crisps.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon to drain on a paper towel and set aside.  Place the chicken in the skillet, and cook until it’s just browned, about three minutes per side.  Transfer the chicken to a slow cooker. (*3)

Add the onions to the skillet, stirring them until they’re tender, about three minutes.  Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute.  Add the lime juice and zest, sherry, soy sauce, molasses, ginger, bay leaves, ground pepper and chili sauce.  Stir to loosen the brown bits at the bottom of the skillet.  Pour skillet contents over the chicken in the slow cooker and cook, covered for three hours.

Remove the bay leaves and stir in the bacon bits you set aside earlier.  Serve over cooked rice and sprinkle with chopped cilantro.  Serve with lime wedges, if desired. (*4)

NOTES:

1 – Of course, two medium shallots would be much better.

2 – The recipe isn’t specific, but I had some sambal oelek in the fridge, and it fits with the whole Southeast Asian culinary theme, so why not?  Sriracha would work too.

3 – If you don’t have a slow cooker, you could transfer the chicken to a plate, then prepare the sauce in the skillet as instructed.  When done, instead of adding the sauce to the slow cooker, return the chicken to the skillet.  Reduce the flame to the lowest setting and cover the skillet.  Stir the contents a few times throughout cooking, to prevent sticking.  Not quite as effective as using a slow cooker, but you’re getting there.

4 – Not just as desired, but as recommended.  Strongly.  The “extra” limes give this dish its voice.

23 thoughts on “Bacon’s Many Uses

    1. Thanks, Tamara! Turkey bacon would be a great substitution.

      Or, conversely, you could skip the bacon altogether. Count me among the .018% of people which is largely indifferent to the stuff. Sure, I like it, but it hardly fires the brain with obsession.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Good ear, Crystal!

      Not quite, though. Actually, it’s a Filipino tribute band, doing their cover of the Gipsy Kings’ version of the Eagles. “Hotel Quezon City,” they call their take. Still, quite a catchy tune.

      You’ve got me thinking now, Crystal – I’ve got to find a way of accompanying some posts with tunes! How many times has something been playing in the background, as I type? “If only they could hear this…” There has to be a way!

      Like

      1. Great, Crystal. Now, answer me this…

        Does our species seek culinary perfection to have something to enhance the music, or do we compose a great song to make savory food all that much better?

        Yes? To both? Uh huh. Yep, I’m beginning to se it now.

        At the most basic level, in common with all living things, we eat to survive. But then, we have to go and get Artistry involved. Showoffs.

        Like

    1. Well, thank you, Angela.

      Actually, you aren’t the first reader who could do without the bacon. Fortunately, it can be omitted without changing noticeably the dish’s character.

      Consider the culinary path that led to adobo. As both Spanish and Filipino cooks obsess over the pig, when the two cultures intersected, you just know some form of bacon had to make an appearance. Good thing is, this dish still shines without it. Just don’t tell the cook, or it’d break her heart!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, naturally, Angela. To each his (and her) own, of course.

        I’ll do you even one better. Far from being counted among those rare souls who dislike bacon, I’m a positively unique eccentric who is…indifferent, largely. Top that one, Angela!

        Pantry shelves can be, and are, filled with things “everybody” likes, but which I don’t. Why cling to the negative, though? If nothing else, this blog is about celebrating what we enjoy, right? That, and stoking curiosity…and conversations. Most definitely conversations!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. oh wow I DEFINITELY have to try this eclectic delight! Asian and Spanish inspiration.. what could be better?? And when you read words like “lime”, “adobo”, “aromatic” “buttery smokiness” and of course.. BACON! How can anyone resist??? Another fantastic post as usual K!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, compliment accepted most gratefully, Mar. Especially coming as it does from someone hailing from the land of jamón ibérico, most gratefully accepted, indeed!

      For now we leave the Philippines with its eclectic (good word, Mar!) mixture of Spanish and Asian influences, but we’ll be back eventually.

      Besides, in the meantime, we have Spanish culinary legacies to explore elsewhere, from the Caribbean, to South America to, perhaps…elsewhere!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, I certainly have enjoyed planning these expeditions, and I suspect I’ll have an even better time creating them

        Best of all, though, will be the discussions that come afterwards. That’s where the real fun begins!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. What an interesting dish. Fusion is right with the inclusion of molasses to boot. Can’t be anything other than delicious!

    I can’t think of a savory dish that bacon doesn’t have the power to amplify with a nice flavor boost! “Everything in moderation” is a great phrase to apply to bacon. While eating an entire package every day might be excessive, a little bacon here and there is just awesome.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Why, thank you, JoAnn!

      Just a little is all it takes, particularly for this dish. Actually, the moderation surprises, especially as both Spanish and Filipino cuisines are bacon-forward. I figured that when the two of them got together, it’d be Bacon Central. Not as much this time, though.

      I appreciate your more more nuanced view of pork belly, because I share it. Although I like bacon, and I savor the occasional indulgence, it doesn’t set my destiny, as it does for some people. When I do splurge, I go for the good stuff – which is a good M.O. for most things. Thick-cut and subtly smoked, if you please!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh I definitely agree! The difference between a great bacon and a mediocre bacon cannot be underestimated. Once you’ve had the great stuff the mediocre stuff could throw a person into a mild depression. Some things you just have to go ahead and splurge on. 😋

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Aside from the minor quibble of us being a thousand miles apart, I would have written (and do write) the exact same thing myself. Some things you just have to go ahead and splurge on.

        See?

        When you discern quality and make a special effort to obtain it, your life is that much richer. Both in the luxuriously savory contentment it provides now, and ultimately, in the conventional riches it outlays too. Because current happiness builds later confidence, which in its turn gets you noticed. Alas, compensation often doesn’t follow, but just as often, it does.

        Thus, eat your great bacon. Before you know it, you’ll be carrying around a bulging canvas bag with a huge dollar sign on it!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Well, now that I think about it I probably had that phrase in mind from reading something you wrote prior. Subliminally it had slipped into my subconscious. See how influential you are!

        Still trying to absorb the last part of that comment. Seems rather profound… a hidden life lesson perhaps. Will mull it over a bit more. 🤔

        Liked by 1 person

      4. It’s common sense, really. Just a variation on “You get what you pay for.”

        While it is cool the exact same idea came to both of us, it would’ve been particularly dismaying if it hadn’t. I suspect neither one of us would’ve been able to look at ourselves in the mirror if the first thing we asked was, “Well, is it on sale? Go for the bargain!”

        Liked by 1 person

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