Adobo-Smothered Chicken Wings


Something happens when we’re apart. Danny goes out of town for a few days and…

My appetite takes a dive, and the kitchen gets a break.

I don’t remember what I had Wednesday night when he was already in Miami, probably playing video games with my dad. On Thursday, I had kale. It was crispy, sweet, and spicy, and gone in less time than it took to cook. And that was it. It was 9 p.m. and I didn’t want anything else.

On Friday morning, I had just coffee. Breakfast is usually what gets me out of bed… so I don’t know what happened when I did the same thing on Monday. Two cups of milk and coffee and then I headed to work.

So unlike me.

I do remember what we had just before he left. We had chicken wings smothered in thick coats of adobo sauce.


Danny took the lead on making the adobo paste the previous day. We found the ancho and chipotle chiles at Whole Foods.

The wings marinated while we were at work, and when I got home I switched on the oven. The wings were plopped onto a baking sheet and were done in less than 30 minutes. Before we knew it, we had dinner on the table, and the sun looked like it didn’t want to set. I squeezed a lime wedge over the wings and served up some chips and quick guacamole.

We didn’t even plate the wings. I gave Danny the pleasure of eating dinner on the couch, where we picked the wings off of the cutting board. Maybe it’s because we weren’t at a table, but I couldn’t resist licking my fingers a couple times.

Adobo works on many things (whole chickens, pork chops) but I’m glad we started out with wings. It was a fast dinner and the paste seemed to help the skin crisp up.

I’ll try to make sure there’s a jar of adobo in the fridge next time Danny’s out of town. It could only encourage me to step up my game when it’s dinner for one.


adobo-smothered chicken wings

Diana Henry says this is her own not-totally-traditional take on adobo, a Mexican paste made with dried chiles, herbs, and vinegar. It can be used as a marinade or sauce, and is absolutely exploding with flavor. Henry says it’ll change the way I feel about pork chops forever, but for now, it made me think we really should have chicken wings more often.

5 dried chipotle chiles
4 dried ancho chiles
1 teaspoon cumin seeds (or 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, not toasted)
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 1/4 inch piece cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon dried oregano
5 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 shallots, roughly chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/3 cup sherry vinegar
a dozen or so wings
a couple of limes

Toast chiles in a dry skillet over medium heat until they puff up and soften. Don’t let them char. Discard the stems and seeds from all the chipotles and half of the anchos.

Heat oven to 350°F.

Put both types of chiles in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat and let soak for 30 minutes.Strain the chiles but reserve the soaking liquid.

Toast the cumin, coriander, allspice, and cinnamon stick in a dry skillet until they are fragrant, about 40 seconds. Add toasted spices into a food processor along with all of the ingredients (except the chicken) including the chiles, garlic, shallots, salt, sugar, and both vinegars. Process to a puree, slowly adding the chile soaking liquid until it reaches the consistency of a paste. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Place wings in a bowl and toss with adobo sauce until they’re generously coated. Smother them. Spread wings out onto a greased baking sheet and bake until cooked through and slightly crisp at the edges, 20 to 25 minutes. Cover with aluminum foil after 15 minutes so the adobo doesn’t burn and quickly flip them at that time. Serve immediately with a squeeze of lime and a side of chips and salsa. Don’t forget the beer.

Transfer rest of adobo to a clean (sterilized) jar with a tight-fitting lid. Keep in the fridge for up to a few weeks. Use as marinade for chicken or pork chops, letting the meat marinate overnight or at least 30 minutes. For pork chops, give them 20 minutes at 375°F.

Serves 2. Recipe from salt sugar smoke: how to preserve fruit, vegetables, meat, and fish by Diana Henry.



8 thoughts on “Adobo-Smothered Chicken Wings

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  2. It would be nice if you could print recipe “ONLY”, there is no reason to print all 6 pages!!! Totally waste of paper, and should not have to write it out by long hand…

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