Chicken, Pork, and Lobster Adobo

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When my husband and I decided to elope way back when, Hawaii was our obvious destination. We’d both visited before and loved it.

Today happens to be the 40th anniversary of our wedding in Lahaina, Maui. Since 1982, we have continued to visit Hawaii – for special occasions, non-occasions, taken young kids, taken older kids and their friends… we even renewed our vows with our children present. (Not recommended.)

I just had to include this photo. It’s personal, but I hardly recognize these people! I do treasure it as it’s our only photo. That’s what happens when you elope! (Which I highly recommend!)

It’s safe to say that we love the islands. There is so much to do and experience, and the food is wonderful. And, to quote my young daughter, “It just smells good there.”

There was a particularly fabulous restaurant we dined at called A Pacific Café in Kapaa, Kauai, located in a crappy little shopping center. The owner was chef Jean Marie Josselin, who was originally from Chamonix, France, trained in Paris, then moved to Hawaii in 1985. He opened this restaurant in 1990.

My husband and I ate at the Café for our 10 year anniversary, in 1992, and later that year Hurricane Iniki wiped out part of Kauai including the restaurant. Very sad.

Because of our wonderful restaurant experience, however, I purchased “A Taste of Hawaii” by Chef Josselin, published in 1992. The book is a delight. Hawaiian cuisine is varied – it’s not all about macadamia nuts and pineapple. There are so many influences on its cuisine by Asian countries, and even Spain and Portugal.

The recipe I chose to make from the cookbook is Chicken, Pork, and Lobster Adobo. It’s an unexpected surf and turf combination that originated in the Phillipines – not something I would have ordered from a menu myself, but it shows the diversity of Hawaiian cuisine. Plus I got to buy lobster!

From the author, “Adobo is widely considered to be the national dish of the Philippines. The flavors balance beautifully in this dish, especially with the sour tang of the vinegar. The lobster in this dish is my own variation, but you can also make it with shrimp – or simply with chicken and pork.”

If you want to read more about Chef Josselin, who is referred to as a pioneer of Hawaiian cuisine, and also known for joining 11 other chefs in starting the Hawaiian Regional Cuisine movement over 25 years ago, this is a great article.

Chicken, Pork, and Lobster Adobo
Serves 4-6

1 bay leaf
4 garlic cloves, peeled, flattened with a knife
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
Pinch of salt
1/2 pound boneless pork butt, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
1/2 cup water
4 teaspoons olive oil
8 ounces cooked lobster, cut into pieces
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 medium tomatoes, cut into cubes
3 teaspoons cilantro

In a saucepan, combine the bay leaf, garlic, vinegar, salt, pork, chicken, and water. Stir well and bring to a boil. Simmer until the meat is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes, adding water if needed to keep mixture moist.

Drain the meat and reserve the cooking juices.

Using a hand-held strainer, remove the garlic from the liquid. In a skillet, heat the olive oil and when it is hot, add the garlic. Sauté until the garlic turns golden, then add the chicken and pork and sauté until the meat is golden or lightly browned.

Add the reserved cooking stock to the pan, followed by the lobster.

Simmer for about 5 minutes, then add the soy sauce, tomatoes, and cilantro.

Cook for another minute or so, and serve at once.

This is definitely what I’d call a “peasant” dish, but it doesn’t lack flavor. It has a fabulous zing from the vinegar.

Guiso de Carne

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At our favorite Mexican restaurant in town, I typically order one of two favorite items. One is shrimp Saltado, and the other is guiso de carne This is what is looks like at the restaurant.

It’s tender beef in a rich red sauce – not spicy, but very flavorful, served with rice, beans, guacamole, pico de gallo, and sour cream.

Recently I decided to make guiso de carne at home, and I immediately had challenges. The first was that this didn’t exist in any of my Mexican cookbooks, and then online, the name guiso de carne was most often changed to carne guisado. I tried to figure out the difference, but hit a dead end.

Carne Guisado is beef braised in a seasoned red sauce, and at this point I’m thinking its a Tex-Mex creation.

So I created my own recipe, and is it exactly like what I love at the restaurant? I’d have to do a side-by-side taste test. But it’s really good.

Guiso de Carne

2 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1/2 -inch pieces
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Grapeseed or canola oil, divided
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 guajillo chile peppers, stemmed, seeded
8 ounces hot chicken broth
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground ancho chile pepper
8 ounces tomato sauce

Place the cut up beef in a large bowl. Add the salt, pepper, cumin and coriander and toss so that all the beef is seasoned.

Starting with 1 tablespoon of oil in a large Dutch oven, brown the meat in batches over high heat, without crowding, then place in another bowl. Continue with remaining beef.

Reduce the heat and add a little more oil if necessary, and sauté the onion; don’t caramelized much.

Meanwhile, place the hot chicken broth in a small blender jar with the guajillo peppers, broken up slightly, the chipotle peppers, the oregano, and ground ancho chile. Let sit for about 5 minutes before blending until smooth.

Add the tomato sauce and blend again; set aside.

Once the onions are sautéed, stir in the minced garlic for barely a minute, then pour in the tomato sauce mixture.

Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the beef and its juices to the sauce, give everything a stir, and simmer on low for 1 hour.

Check halfway through cooking – add some more broth if necessary. Make sure to give the meat a stir to make sure there is no sticking.

Serve the guiso de carne on a plate with your desired side dishes and toppings.

Rice and beans are great accompaniments, as are flour tortillas.

If you prefer eating guiso de carne in tortillas, like tacos, it’s best to make sure the pieces of chuck aren’t bigger than 1/2″.

Ancho Chile Paste

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Having ancho chile pepper paste is a staple in my house, with as much Mexican and Southwestern cooking that I do. I might just need a couple of teaspoons, say, to season some sour cream or mayo, or about 1/2 cup of it to add to a soup, chili, meat loaf, or enchilada sauce. I always keep jars of it frozen, to use when needed. It also keeps refrigerated for about six months.

The name of this dark red stuff comes from the fact that ancho chile peppers are used to make the ancho chile paste, which makes sense. Ancho chile peppers are actually dried poblanos. I don’t know why they can’t just call them dried poblanos, but that’s just not how it works in the chile pepper world.

The flavor of ancho chile paste, made only with ancho chiles, is dense and intense. It’s essentially reconstituted chile peppers.

But you can use other dried chile peppers, and even include hot varieties for a little zing. I personally like to use a mixture of chile peppers. Today, I’m using anchos, plus guajillos and chipotles. I’m running low on my precious chile pepper paste, so it’s time to make more. Here’s what I did:

Ancho, Guajillo, and Chipotle Chile Paste

10 ancho chile peppers (large, stubby, dark and wrinkly in the photo)
8 guajillo chile peppers (long, narrow, red and smooth)
Handful of chipotle peppers, depending on your taste (short, dark wrinkly)

Shown below, from left, ancho chile peppers, chipotle chile peppers, and guajillo chile peppers.

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First you must remove the stems from all of the large dried peppers with a sharp knife, and discard. Then slice open the pepper bodies and remove the seeds.

Please be aware that even though these are not fresh chile peppers, they can still burn your skin and eyes.

Place the pepper body parts in the bottom of a large bowl.

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Add boiling water to cover the peppers. Place a smaller, weighted bowl on top to keep the peppers submerged for at least one hour so they can hydrate.

Set up your blender, and have a measuring cup and a rubber spatula on hand. Using tongs, grab all the peppers you can and place them in the jar of the blender. Save the water in the bowl.

Using the measuring cup, remove some of the beautiful pepper-tinged water from the top. Seeds and any kind of debris will be at the bottom of the bowl. Add about 1/3 cup of the liquid to the blender.

Purée the peppers, adding a little more of the pepper water if necessary. The mixture should be smooth, but not too liquid.

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If you have any pepper water leftover, use it in other dishes, like in a soup.

Place a sieve over a bowl. Scrape all of the ancho chile paste into the colander.

Using a spoon’s bottom, force the paste through the sieve. This process removes the chile pepper peels.

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Scrape the paste from the bottom of the sieve as well, and voila! Chile pepper paste.

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Place the paste in clean jars. Freeze, and thaw as needed.

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Note that this recipe can be doubled or tripled, depending on much ancho chile paste you want! It’s the same amount of work!

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Also note that the chile paste will stain everything – your spatula, your sink, your countertop your clothes… You will have many orange spots if you don’t catch the spills immediately!

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