Monday, November 19, 2007


After a recent budget meeting with my husband, I have decided to become a Superwife.

This uncommon hero has vowed to create delicious and (somewhat) nutritious meals for two under a budget. Here are the rules:

Rule #1: Each meal must average to $5 (or less) per person.
Rule #2: Each meal must have a protein and veggie, starch optional.
Rule #3: At least one ingredient must already be available at home (This is a good way to save money!).
Rule #4: At least 50% of meals must be gourmet, or I will no longer qualify as "foodie."

Here are my powers for the weekend (my comments in pink):

Maple and Black Pepper Chicken
Serves 4 (but it made five meals for us!)

1 1/2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
1 chicken, about 4 - 4 1/2pounds, cut into 6 pieces: 2 legs, 2 thighs, 2 bone-in breast halves with wings (I just bought a pre-cut chicken from Trader Joe's)
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt plus more to taste1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F with a rack set in the second highest position. With a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder, coarsely grind the peppercorns and set them aside. (I don't own a mortar and pestle, so I just used my pepper grinder which worked fine)

2. Pat the chicken pieces dry and season them well with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the salt. In a large, heavy-bottomed saute pan or skillet set over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil 3-4 minutes. Put the chicken breasts into the pan skin side down and cook for about 7-9 minutes, without moving, until the skin is golden brown. Remove the chicken to a baking dish or roasting pan large enough to hold all the chicken. Next, brown the thighs and drumsticks, turning so the skin is evenly browned, up to 10 minutes.

3. Add the thighs and drumsticks to the baking dish and put the chicken in the oven. (Reserve the pan.) Roast for about 30-35 minutes until the chicken flesh closest to the bone is opaque. An instant-read thermometer should register about 165 degrees F for the breasts, and 175 degrees F for thighs and legs.

4. While the chicken is roasting, make the sauce in the reserved pan. Discard all but 2 tablespoons of the fat and set the pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and thyme and cook, stirring, 1-2 minutes or just until the shallot starts to color. Add the vinegar and simmer 1-2 minutes, using a spatula to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the maple syrup and cracked black pepper and simmer for about 8-10 minutes until the sauce is reduced by about half. Adjust seasoning to taste. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve immediately.

My Comments: Your kitchen will smell like vinegar while cooking, but don't worry--the sourness will dissipate after it is reduced.

I served this with a spring salad on the side and Superhusband (he is "super" by default) was smacking his lips the whole time! If you put the chicken on top of the leaves, you definitely won't need dressing, since the maple-vinegar sauce dripping from the chicken is enough.

Budget rundown:
Chicken (Trader Joe's)-$9.55 (they charge by the pound, so I just picked the cheapest one)
Shallot (Whole Foods)-40 cents/each
Thyme (Whole Foods)-$1.99/bundle
Cider Vinegar (Trader Joe's)-$1.99/bottle
Spring Salad (Trader Joe's)-$1.99/bag

Total cost: $15.92
Cost of each meal: $3.18 (or $3.98 for four meals)

To fulfill Rule #3, I already had maple syrup, purchased two years ago from my trip to Massachusetts. I love Grade B maple syrup the best, as you really taste the essence of it, but Grade A is the most popular.


Stewy & Morty's Garden said...


Could you drop me an email at so that I can email you the cupcake recipe?

Teresa (Stewy & Morty Garden)

tigerfish said...

Oh, I'm trying hard to be a Superwife too, everywhere I go. I like Trader Joes. It helps my goal as a superwife. However, I'm missing it at this moment.