Chicken Adobo Takes To The Grill

Garlicky and tangy chicken adobo -- done on the grill.

Garlicky and tangy chicken adobo — done on the grill.


Anyone of Filipino heritage will tell you that everyone has their own rendition of adobo, the classic home-style dish that gets its punchy flavor from copious amounts of garlic, soy sauce, and sharp vinegar.

Now comes Jamie Purviance’s version. And naturally, what makes this one special is that it’s grilled rather than simmered or braised like traditional adobo.

After all, as Weber’s master griller for 20 years, the Northern California-based Purviance can’t resist cooking most anything over gas or charcoal.

“Barbecued Chicken Adobo” is from his new cookbook, “Weber’s Ultimate Grilling: A Step-by-Step Guide to Barbecue Genius” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), of which I received a review copy.

Weber's Ultimate Grilling

This barbecue bible features more than 100 recipes. Best yet, each recipe is illustrated clearly with step-by-step instructional photos.

With the weather heating up, now’s the perfect time to try your hand at everything from “Grilled Peach Salad with Goat Cheese” and “Filet Mignon with Mushroom-Cognac Sauce” to “Plancha Salmon Rice Bowl” and “Chocolate Banana Bread Pudding.”

In the Adobo recipes, chicken thighs get marinated for 2 to 4 hours in a mix of garlic, ginger, black pepper, distilled white vinegar and soy sauce that gets blended in a food processor for ease. Because acid can “cook” proteins, you don’t want to let the mixture marinate longer than 4 hours — lest you risk the chicken turning out mushy in texture.

When you’re ready to eat, remove the chicken thighs, but save the marinade, which gets boiled and reduced to guard against cross-contamination from the raw poultry. This reduced sauce gets brushed on the chicken as it grills. The remainder can be drizzled over the chicken just before serving.

The grilled chicken is incredibly juicy and moist with crisp skin. The marinade and glaze give it plenty of tang, umami and perkiness like any good adobo would. But you also get this wonderful smoky char from the grill.

This just might be your favorite adobo yet.

Unlike traditional adobo, which is braised, this version results in very crisp skin on the chicken.

Unlike traditional adobo, which is braised, this version results in very crisp skin on the chicken.

Barbecued Chicken Adobo

(Serves 4 to 8)

For Adobo Marinade:

6 large garlic cloves, smashed

2-by-1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped

2 teaspoons black peppercorns

1 cup distilled white vinegar

1/2 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

For rest of dish:

8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, each about 6 ounces, trimmed of excess fat and skin

2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar

4 bay leaves


In a food processor, combine the garlic, ginger, and peppercorns and pulse until finely ground, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Add the vinegar, soy sauce, and oil and process until pureed, about 30 seconds.

Place a large resealable plastic bag inside a bowl to help steady it. Put the chicken in the bag and pour in the marinade. Press the air out of the bag and seal closed. Turn the bag to distribute the marinade. Place the bag in the bowl in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to 4 hours.

Prepare the grill for direct and indirect cooking over medium heat (350 to 375 degrees). Meanwhile, remove the chicken from the marinade, letting the excess drip back into the bag and reserving the marinade.

Transfer the marinade to a small skillet or saucepan and stir in the sugar and bay leaves. Bring to a boil over high heat on the stove. Reduce the heat to medium-high and continue to boil until reduced to 3/4 cup glaze, about 8 to 12 minutes, whisking occasionally (lower the heat to prevent burning). Remove the bay leaves and set aside off the heat. Pour about 1/3 cup of the glaze into a small bowl and reserve.

Brush the cooking grates clean. Grill the chicken, skin side down first, over direct medium heat (with the food right over the heat), with the lid closed as much as possible, until golden brown, about 10 minutes total, turning once. Move the chicken pieces, skin side up, over indirect medium heat (with the food cooking off to the side of the heat source). Brush with some of the glaze reserved in the small bowl.

Grill, with the lid closed, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part (not touching the bone) registers 165 degrees, 15 to 20 minutes. Turn and brush with more glaze from the small bowl halfway through cooking. Remove from the grill. Serve the remaining glaze from the small skillet or saucepan with the chicken at the table.

Adapted from “Weber’s Ultimate Grilling” by Jamie Purviance


More Jamie Purviance Recipes to Try: Chicken Thighs with Sweet Apricot-Hoisin Glaze


And: Grilled Eggplant with Spicy Asian Dressing

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  • Love Chicken Adobo! But the typically braising technique gives the thighs the tender texture I’m used to. Wonder if I would miss that from the grilling, which I’m sure provides the crispy texture but maybe not the fall off the bone meat? I’m sure the sauce helped. 😉

  • Ben: Actually the chicken ends up equally tender this way. All that vinegar not only imparts a wonderful tang, but helps tenderize the chicken, too.

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