Adobo seasoning (Recipe: turkey-chile rotini)
Where do you stand on adobo?
We're not talking politics here. No left or right, red state or blue state, alternative energy or education. No defense spending, no financial bailout, no leaving anyone behind.
I mean where do you stand -- because where you are has everything to do with adobo.
In The Philippines, adobo is the national dish, pork or chicken cooked in a sauce made of vinegar, soy sauce, garlic and pepper.
In Mexico, or New Mexico, adobo is the vinegar-based, smoky-hot, tablecloth-staining sauce in which chipotle chile peppers are packed.
In The Perfect Pantry, adobo is often both the vinegar-based chicken dish and the sauce that envelops those wonderful chipotles, but it's also something else -- a dry spice blend, including garlic, onion, black pepper, Mexican oregano, cumin and cayenne red pepper, and sometimes salt.
Though I've written about Mexican oregano and how it differs from Mediterranean oregano, I find that most often when I use it, I'm combining it with other herbs and spices, especially cumin. In the Southwest US and Mexico, and in Latino markets closer to my New England pantry, you can buy adobo seasoning (Goya is the brand in most supermarkets) that already combines the spices I love to use together. And because Mexican oregano has a strong flavor that I don't always want in my cooking, I use small amounts, and the spice blend gives me just enough and not too much.
If you can't find it in your supermarket's Latino products section, order adobo seasoning online from Penzeys (salt free), The Spice House (two versions, with or without salt) or Goya (regular and low-sodium). Or make your own, and store it on your spice rack or in the refrigerator for up to one year.
Adobo seasoning is a convenient, balanced blend for many Tex-Mex, Puerto Rican and Mexican-inspired dishes, including black bean, lemon and cilantro soup, steak Boriqua, roast pork with rice and red beans, arroz con pollo, chicken with adobo rub, and calico salsa.
And you can use it no matter where you stand.
A slight variation one of our favorite go-to weekday recipes. Serves 6 as a main course.
1 lb Dreamfields or other rotini
2 Tbsp vegetable or canola oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 lb ground turkey
1 tsp ground cumin, or more to taste
1 tsp chili powder, or more to taste
1 tsp adobo
Pinch of hot red pepper flakes
1 4-oz can fire-roasted green chiles, drained
16 oz canned chopped tomato
2 cups water
Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Store-bought shredded reduced-fat Mexican four-cheese blend, for topping (or other cheese of your choice)
Prepare the pasta according to package directions, until the pasta is still a bit undercooked but almost al dente. Drain and set aside.
AT THE SAME TIME, when you start the pasta water, prepare the sauce. In a large, deep sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat, and cook the onion for 2 minutes, until translucent. Add the ground turkey, and cook, breaking up the pieces, until lightly browned. Add cumin, chili powder, adobo and red pepper flakes, and stir to combine. Add green chiles, tomato, water, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Add the cooked pasta -- which will almost immediately absorb any liquid in the turkey-chile sauce -- and stir to coat the pasta with the sauce. Cook until all excess liquid is absorbed into the pasta.
Either stir in the shredded cheese, or pour the pasta into a serving bowl and pass the cheese separately, for each person to add to taste.