$7 Dinner Challenge: Balsamic-Braised Chicken and Artichokes
I am finally joining in the $7 Dinner Challenge! This is a great new blog event where people can share four-serving meals, with protein and veggies, that cost $7 or less to make. I may have an unfair advantage here, since I put together meal plans whose ingredients cost $20+ (for one person) every week. But the more people who share, the merrier, right? (You can find this particular recipe by clicking on “premium meal plans,” in a packet along with fudge-banana protein shakes, butternut squash mac ‘n’ cheese, and minestrone. Yum!)
I totally love these chicken legs. I actually used the entire can of tomatoes, totally by accident, both times I made them; my girlfriend Annie (pictured below) used the proper amount and said that they tasted different but both ways were good! With mine I ended up with sort of a balsamic-y tomato confit around the chicken legs, which was nice but a little intense. I think without the extra tomatoes, it reduces to a glaze, letting the chicken get more of a word in edgewise in this dish!
The great thing about it is that braising the chicken makes the skin all slurpy. That was the least vegan-friendly sentence here so far. Mmm, slurpy chicken skin! That is, braising makes it tender and good. Braising too long, though, as I have been known to do, makes it a little tough, so keep an eye on it!
Balsamic Braised Chicken Legs
4-6 free-range chicken legs (about $1.80 at Trader Joe’s, although they’ve started cramming more legs in the tray so some can cost as much as $3!)
6 organic garlic cloves (25 cents)
1 organic onion (50 cents)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil (say 25 cents or so)
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar ($2 for the fancy stuff at Trader Joe’s)
1 14-ounce can organic diced tomatoes (Half a big can at TJs is 95 cents)
Fresh rosemary sprigs to taste (From my garden – come pick some!)
Total cost of ingredients: $5.75
Dry-brine the chicken: season chicken legs all over with salt and pepper, and refrigerate all day or overnight.
Mince the garlic and slice the onion thinly. In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and brown the onion and chicken legs. Add tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, and rosemary; simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chicken’s juices run clear when pierced near the bone.
Four artichokes (99 cents on the bargain rack at Berkeley Bowl)
Cut each artichoke in half lengthwise. Fill a stovetop steamer, or a steamer basket in a big pot, with water just up above the bottom of the artichokes. Place halved artichokes in the steamer, cover, and cook over medium-high heat for about 45 minutes or until even the choke is soft, adding water during cooking time if necessary. (That is, if you peek and it is at risk of boiling dry! I have frequently boiled the damn things dry and while they are still edible, the angry-wet-dog smell of burned artichokes permeates both dish and house for far too long afterward.)
Total total cost for both dishes $6.74
There you go – healthy, super-flavorful, and nice to the environment. Artichokes are, apparently, packed full of antioxidants, and you get red AND green produce in this dish – much better than what I often do, which is cook myself a lump of protein and call it a day! This is why meal planning is so important – even people who do it for a living can fall into a rut and skip all those crucial fruits and veggies for weeks at a time.