A good Chicken a la Pobre is one of my favorite chicken dishes of all time. Other people can have their adobos, and I don’t really know if Chicken a la Pobre even qualifies as a Filipino dish, but to me, it is THE Filipino chicken dish that is on my mind when I think of home-cooked Filipino food.
I got these Chicken Thighs on sale from S&R when it was on promo – and what better way to enjoy them than to make my favorite Chicken a la Pobre?
The ingredients are very simple – you most likely already have everything in your pantry!
- chicken – my preference is dark meat, thighs, drumsticks and wings
- olive oil
- a lot of garlic!
- whole black peppercorns
- laurel leaves
- light cooking liquid of your choice – water, broth or white wine
Clean and wash the chicken, remove the things you may not want to eat – like fats, blood, little bone bits.
Pour out any excess water from your chicken container. I am just using one of these plastic mixing bowls.
Generously salt the chicken, according to your preference. I am cooking 8 pcs of chicken thighs, and used about 2 to 3 tablespoons of regular sea salt (the squarish one). I like it to be salty because I will be adding some liquid later which will dilute the saltiness. If I don’t put enough salt on the chicken, it will turn out bland.
If you are using fine iodized salt, you get more iodized salt per tablespoon vs sea salt due to the size and shape of the iodized salt, so please adjust accordingly or you could end up putting too much.
Rub the salt on the chicken, make sure all the chicken pieces are salted, front and back. Set aside.
Chop some garlic! I love garlic so I am putting in a whole lot!
Fry the garlic in some olive oil until golden. DO NOT BURN THE GARLIC! Turn off the heat.
Take out the garlic, leaving the now garlicky olive oil in the pan. Take out all the garlic. Don’t leave any garlic in the pan or they will burn in the next step. Set the garlic aside.
Turn the heat back on to medium high. Add some more olive oil to the pan if needed. You’ll need to have around 1-2 mm of hot oil on your pan to pan fry the chicken in. Put some chicken pieces in the hot oil, skin side down. Do not crowd the pan.
All we want to do is to brown the chicken – we don’t need it to be fully cooked. We just want it to be a little toasted. The reason – this makes the chicken smell good and we want to capture that deliciousness in our dish!
When the chicken is nicely toasted, about 3 – 5 minutes, turn the chicken over to brown the other side, which should take less time.
I cover the chicken while browning because it’s just less messy. Less splatters – easier cleanup.
Once your first batch of chicken has been browned, remove them to a plate, and start browning another batch until you finish browning all your chicken.
Put all your browned chicken back in the pan. Reserve some fried garlic to sprinkle on top for decoration later on. Put the rest of the fried garlic with the browned chicken.
Add in the whole black peppercorns (about 20 pcs), and the laurel leaves (I used 4 leaves since I like a stronger laurel flavor).
Pour in your cooking liquid (I just used water), just enough to cover half of the chicken, about 2 cups since we like it saucy. I arranged the chicken pieces meatier side down so that it will be sure to cook more.
Stir, try to scrape and dissolve into the liquid any fried brown bits that may be sticking to the “floor” of your pan. Those brown bits contribute to flavor!
When it comes to a boil, lower the heat so it just simmers. Cover. Let it simmer, not boil, until the chicken reaches your desired level of tenderness. I like to let it simmer for about an hour to an hour and a half because we like our chicken falling off the bone. Stir it occasionally and move the chicken pieces around to make sure that all the chicken pieces get cooked evenly.
What does simmering look like? Bubbles should just be breaking on the surface. Like, imagine you were with Frodo looking down into the volcano inside Mount Doom – the lava is just slightly bubbling.
Once the chicken is tender, taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning – do you need to add some more salt or is the flavor okay? If it’s okay, it’s done! I usually add just a bit more salt to the sauce.
Turn off the heat, plate, garnish with the reserved fried garlic on top and serve!
This is awesome with rice! It’s garlicky and salty and enveloped in umami from the olive oil and the chicken’s own fat. The meat is so tender, it’s falling off the bone with a soft pull.
SOME FINAL THOUGHTS
I love Chicken a la Pobre, in case that wasn’t clear before, hahaha! This one is falling off the bone tender, slightly salty with a bit of delicious bitterness from the garlic and laurel, and has a mellow kick from the black pepper, all carried by the olive oil and chicken oil sauce. This is awesome with rice!
You can also use a slow cooker – once you’re done frying the garlic and browning the chicken, you can transfer everything and do the rest in a slow cooker. This is a good idea especially if you want to prepare everything in advance, go out for a few hours, and come back home to a fully-cooked, delicious dish!
If you’re really pressed for the time and don’t want to make too much of an effort, you can just dump everything in the slow cooker (without frying the garlic or chicken beforehand) – I have also done this myself when I just didn’t have the time to do the frying. It still came out good.
To cook in the slow cooker – it’s about 4 hours on high, or 8 hours on low. But don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be timed exactly. Even if you cook it in the slow cooker for 12 hours on low, it will still be delicious, just very, very tender. This is why I love using a slow cooker.
If you think cooking 8 pcs of chicken is too much, you can halve the recipe. But, I think it’s better to just cook a big batch – one time effort lang, but you can enjoy the dish twice or thrice! You can put the extra chicken a la pobre in a freezer-safe container once it cools down, and freeze it. Next time you’re feeling lazy to cook, just thaw and heat the frozen chicken a la pobre for an instant meal!
Okay, some of you may ask why we need to fry the garlic separately from the chicken. Why? If we fry the garlic together with the chicken, the garlic will very likely get burnt. Burnt garlic flavor is not good. Frying the garlic separately from the chicken prevents burnt garlic
Hope you enjoyed this Chicken a la Pobre recipe. It’s really one of my favorites!
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