1 1/4 hours
This Philippine classic has been called the best chicken dish in the world by a number of my friends and readers. It is cooked in liquid first, then roasted, grilled, or broiled. Here, however, the initial poaching liquid is reduced to make a sauce to pass at the table for both the chicken and white rice, the natural accompaniment. The coconut milk isn’t mandatory, though it does enrich the sauce considerably.
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup white or rice vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups coconut milk (optional)
1 whole chicken, 3 to 4 pounds, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 8 pieces, or any combination of parts
1. Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, bay leaves, pepper, 1 cup water, and half the coconut milk, if you’re using it, in a covered skillet or saucepan large enough to hold the chicken in one layer. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add the chicken; reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, covered, turning once or twice, until the chicken is almost done, about 20 minutes. (At this point, you may refrigerate the chicken in the liquid for up to a day before proceeding; skim the fat before reheating.)
2. Heat the oven to 450°F or heat a charcoal or gas grill or the broiler to moderate heat and put the rack about 4 inches from the heat source. Remove the chicken pieces from the liquid and dry them gently with paper towels. Boil the sauce, along with the remaining coconut milk if you’re using it, over high heat until it is reduced to about 1 cup; discard the bay leaves and keep the sauce warm. Meanwhile, grill, broil, or roast the chicken until brown and crisp and hot, turning as necessary, 10 to 15 minutes total (roasting will take a little longer). Serve the chicken with the sauce.