Chicken With Adobo and Saffron Rice

Chicken With Adobo and Saffron Rice

Adobo sauce is probably best known for being the rich, earthen-coloured sauce that surrounds canned chipotle peppers. However, it’s also an authentic and delicious Mexican staple that’s easy to make from scratch and which can be slathered on chicken, potatoes, rice…pretty much anything that needs a pick-me-up. For meat and fish in particular, it also works brilliantly as a marinade, and the longer you can leave it the smokier and sweeter the results. Our favourite is this variation – chicken with adobo and saffron rice.

This recipe for Chicken with Adobo and Saffron rice is a great way of jazzing up a bog standard chicken and rice dish. For best results, you should aim to leave the chicken to marinade for at least two hours, but no-one’s watching: the sauce is delicious in and of itself, so don’t not make this because you don’t have the two hours. Some more things:

  • Turn up the heat– Once the chicken has been marinaded you would ideally cook it on a BBQ or grill – items with which our city centre-based apartment is not equipped. If you too are faced with this scenario, and don’t mind setting off a few smoke alarms, we recommend searing the chicken in a cast iron skillet on very high heat to begin with, before finishing at a low heat. The charring and blackening of the chicken gives it a lot of its flavour, and goes well with the ancho chillies.
  • It’s simple– Once you make your marinade and smother it all over the chicken, you’re on easy street. You’re then just cooking chicken like you normally would, and making some rice.
  • Ingredients you’ll re-use – Assuming you’re able to source ancho chillies (You can get them in Sainsbury’s), you’ll have plenty of jazzy ingredients you can re-use here, particularly in regards to whatever chilli combination you go for. Re-use these in stews, other marinades (or just a big bowl of chilli). Speaking of peppers…
  • Use whatever chilli peppers you can get, but don’t sub out anchos – This is a riff on a recipe which calls for guajillio chillies. We’re yet to source these in Belfast (I tend to use a combination of fresh, dried ancho and rocoto), so whatever you can get your hands on is fine. Don’t skip the ancho though, as this is what makes this a tasty chicken and rice.


This would definitely enjoy the company of pickled red onions, not to mention sour cream and tortillas. But definitely a cold beer.

Chicken with Adobo and Saffron Rice

Servings 2 (very hungry) people


Saffron Rice

  • 1/4 tsp Saffron Threads
  • 60 ml Hot Water
  • 1 knob Butter
  • 200 g White Basmati Rice
  • 350 ml Chicken or Vegetable Stock
  • 1 pinch Salt

Adobo Marinade

  • 3 Ancho Chillies
  • 3 Rocoto Chillies
  • 1 Red Chilli
  • 1 Lime (juice of)
  • 1 Orange (juice of)
  • 60 ml Red Wine Vinegar
  • 60 ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 4 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp Oregano
  • 2 tsp Thyme
  • 2 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1 Pinch Salt
  • 1 Pinch Pepper


  • 500 g Chicken Thighs

To Finish

  • Fresh Coriander
  • 1 Lime (juice of)


Saffron Rice

  • Take the saffron threads and grind with a pestle and mortar, until it forms a powder. An expensive powder.
  • Pour hot water into the mortar, and allow to soak for approx. 5 mins.
  • Meanwhile, rinse your basmati rice in a sieve/colander until the water runs clear.
  • Add butter to a pot over medium heat. Once melted, add basmati rice and toast for approx 5 mins, until the rice turns translucent.
  • Pour the expensive yellow saffron liquid evenly across the top of the rice.
  • Add stock to the pot and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and let rice cook for 15 mins.
  • Turn off the heat and continue to let the rice steam for a further 10 minutes.


  • Cut the tops off the dried/fresh peppers and remove the seeds. Place peppers into a bowl and cover in hot water, soaking for at least one hour.
  • Remove peppers from the water and throw into a food processor, along with around 50ml of the soaking liquid – add more if the peppers are blending too thick. Blend until you have a pepper paste.
  • Combine 3 tablespoons of the paste with the remaining marinade ingredients and mix to combine. Season with a hearty pinch of salt and a grind of pepper. Store remaining paste and use later to make other delicious food.
  • Add chicken thighs to a freezer bag along with half of the marinade, and marinade for at least two hours.
  • Remove chicken from the marinade, and heat marinade over a medium-low heat in a small saucepan. Bring it to a simmer.
  • Sear chicken thighs in a cast iron skillet over very high heat for approx 4 minutes on each side. Then, lower heat, and cook for a further 4 minutes on each side.
  • Serve chicken over saffron rice, and pour over hot marinade. Top with pickled red onions, sour cream, and coriander; serve with tortillas and beer.

Looking for another weeknight chicken recipe with slightly less faff? Check out our Seared Chicken with Tomato Curry Sauce recipe, or our super easy Chicken Korma recipe.

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