Updated: Oct 7, 2020
"Adobo" is a Spanish word that is generally used to mean sauce; it is derived from the word "adobar," to marinate or soak for tanning. In Latin America, adobo usually refers to a chile-based sauce with garlic, vinegar, and spices. In the Philipines, the term was applied to traditional marinades making use of local seasonings like vinegar, bay leaves, and pepper. This adobo is less traditional in that it uses cider vinegar (as opposed to palm vinegar or cane vinegar) and is sweetened with a bit of sugar. Although it takes a little bit of time, it is a really easy to prepare and only uses ingredients you probably already have in the pantry! I like to make it with jowl, although any cut with plenty of fat will work. Adapted from this recipe by Sasha Martin.
Total Time -- 2.5 hours; Serves 6.
2 1/2 lbs pork (fatty cut, such as shoulder, belly, or jowl), cut into 2" pieces
1 head garlic, cloves peeled and slightly crushed
1 tsp cracked black peppercorns
1 1/2 cup cider vinegar
3/4 cup water
6 bay leaves
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp brown sugar, divided
Salt and pepper to taste
Add pork, garlic, peppercorns, vinegar, water, bay leaves, soy sauce, and 1 Tbsp of brown sugar to a dutch oven or other large pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a gentle simmer. Simmer 1-2 hours until the meat is tender, without stirring.
Remove pieces of meat to one plate or bowl; pour out the cooking liquid into a second bowl.
Return the pot to the stove and heat over medium-high heat. Return meat to pot and brown in the fat that the meat will release as heated (if you are using shoulder instead of belly or jowl, you may want to add some oil to the pan).
Once the meat is browned, remove from the pan again and dispose of extra fat that may have rendered. Pour cooking liquid back into the pot and use to deglaze, scraping the fond from frying the meat into the liquid. Boil to reduce and thicken, adding second tablespoon of brown sugar. The sauce should reduce until thick and syrupy. Taste sauce and add salt and pepper if desired.
When done reducing (about 20-30 minutes), return meat to the pot and reheat, coating pieces in sauce. Serve over rice.