Thursday, May 2, 2013

Cinco de Mayo, and Weekly Specials with Mary Anne

Nothing great when it comes to sales again this week. As frequently happens, the best deals are at Aldi on fruits and vegetables. Which is nice, and we need fruit and vegetables, but I keep waiting for a good price on something different in the meat department. Like filet mignon for $1.67 a pound. I’ll be sure and let you know when that happens! In the meantime, here’s the sales for this week.

Aldi has avocados for 69 cents each. Mangoes are 49 cents each. Strawberries are $1.49 a pound and cantaloupe are $1.49 each. Eggs were $1.19 when I was there on Thursday but were $1.89 when I was there on Wednesday.

Marsh has ten-ounce packages of jalapeno peppers two for $4.00, or $2.00 each. I have no idea how many peppers are in a bag. Three bunches of fresh cilantro are $2.00, or 67 cents each. The flier shows Mexican ingredients like taco shells, Mexican cheeses, etc., but I have no idea how good the prices are.

Kroger has cantaloupe and “personal size” watermelons two for $5.00, or $2.50 each. Five-pound bags of Idaho potatoes are $1.77, or about 35 cents a pound. Purnell breakfast sausage is two one-pound rolls for $5.00, or $2.50 a pound. Roma tomatoes are 99 cents a pound. Chicken leg quarters are 69 cents a pound in ten-pound bags, or $6.90 a bag. Sweet corn is ten ears for $3.00, or 30 cents an ear. Green beans are 99 cents a pound. And Kroger’s flier includes some Mexican ingredients, too.

As I said, there aren’t any great deals on meat this week, so we’re back to Walmart’s chicken leg quarters for $6.90 for ten pounds, or 69 cents a pound. Or Kroger’s chicken leg quarters for $6.90 for ten pounds, or 69 cents a pound, if you prefer. It’s the regular price at Walmart and a sale price at Kroger.

You know by now that you can take the leg quarters apart and do different things with different parts. Like pull the skin off and roast it to make CHICKEN CHIPS or GRIBENES. And cut the leg quarters into drumsticks, thighs, and bits of back. That way you can fix the drumsticks one way and the thighs another and you don’t have so much chicken that’s all the same. And save the backs and the bones to make bone broth. I’ve talked about all that several times now (or at least it seems that way to me) so I won’t tell you how to do it again. You can scroll through old columns on the website to get instructions.

Cinco de Mayo is Monday, so I’m going to give some recipes that are at least vaguely Mexican or at least vaguely Tex-Mex. Avocados and cilantro are on sale, and a lot of prepared “Mexican” ingredients and we might as well take advantage of them while we can.

This first recipe, EASY SPICY MEXICAN AMERICAN CHICKEN, calls for half a cup of Mexican-style hot sauce and a tablespoon of cayenne for just four thighs! Yikes! I looked online for a price for the brand recommended in the recipe, and it looks like it’s something different than I was expecting. I was thinking hot sauce like Tabasco sauce, and two tablespoons of that per thigh, plus almost a tablespoon of cayenne would be explosively hot! The Mexican-style hot sauce comes in 12 ounce bottles, though, instead of the 2 ounce bottles that Tabasco sauce comes in, so I’m assuming it’s not as potent. At any rate, use as much or as little as your taste buds demand. It was interesting reading the reviews of the original recipe. Apparently it makes a huge difference what kind of hot sauce you use. If you use Frank’s hot sauce and the full tablespoon of cayenne, you’d better have a cast-iron mouth and gullet. Adjust the heat to suit your own taste. Someone suggested dipping the chicken in ranch dressing to cool it down a bit, and a few other folks said that the chicken reminds them of Buffalo wings. I’m saying to remove the skin from the chicken, because several reviewers said that the fat from the chicken made the sauce too runny. Leave it on or take it off; it’s up to you. Just be sure to make CHICKEN CHIPS if you do remove the skin!

There are usually ten chicken leg quarters in a ten-pound bag from Walmart (I think they were a bit smaller when I got them from Kroger a year or so ago, so a few more in the bag) so they’re about a pound each. That’s 69 cents per leg or $2.76 for the four of them. Let’s figure $1.00 for the seasonings; it will depend on what brand of hot sauce you use. That’s $3.76 for the whole batch, or 94 cents each.

Let’s have a salad (half a head of lettuce and four ounces of Roma tomatoes) and a cup of ranch dressing to put on the salad and to dip the chicken in. That’s another $1.70. You can finish it off with a diced avocado or wedges of cantaloupe. The avocado brings the total to $6.15, or $1.54, which is 4 cents per person over my goal of $1.50 per person. Maybe the hot sauce will be cheaper than I'm estimating. A third of a cantaloupe, cut in four wedges, instead of the avocado will bring it to $5.96, or $1.49 per person. Or have corn on the cob to go with it. Four ears will be $1.20. The corn plus the chicken will be $5.00, and you can have an avocado and some ranch dressing for dipping the chicken and still keep it to $6.00 total.

I’m counting CHICKEN CASSEROLE WITH GREEN CHILIS as quasi-Mexican because of the green chilis and the cumin. At any rate, it’s more Mexican than the tacos Mom used to make for us back in the 60s and 70s. The filling, as best I can remember, was a mixture of canned chili and corned beef hash! But it was served in taco shells with lettuce and cheese so it was Mexican. That was way back in the days when about the only “ethnic” food was chop suey or Italian spaghetti and pizza. We are so lucky these days to have so much ethnic food available, some of it authentic and a lot of it more influenced by than real.

I have to guess at how much the chilis cost. Using a cost of $1.00 (and it seems to me that I looked into that some time ago and they were pretty cheap), this will cost about $6.85 and will make eight servings, or about 86 cents per serving. Let’s call it 90 cents, shall we? That makes it $3.60 for four servings. How about a pound of frozen broccoli to go with it, for another $1.00, and two avocados for $1.40. That comes to a total of $6.00 for four servings, or $1.50 per serving. Or one avocado, thinly sliced so everyone gets three or four slices, and half a head of lettuce, a sliced tomato or two, and some dressing. That’s still right about $6.00. Or some cantaloupe instead of the broccoli or salad, which still keeps it about $6.00. Or corn on the cob.

The introductory info on the recipe for CHICKEN WITH CHIPOTLE says that it is “a true Mexican chicken recipe,” for whatever that’s worth. It sounds good, though, regardless of how true it is. The chicken will cost about $4.15, or about $1.05 per serving for four servings. Serve it with SPICY MEXICAN COLESLAW for a total cost of about $6.00, or $1.50 per serving.

I have to be really vague about the cost of the coleslaw, because I don’t buy jalapeno, cilantro, lime juice or orange juice. But I’m pretty sure it will cost less than $2.00. I guessed at the prices and came up with $1.55. Will you let me call it $1.85 so that the coleslaw plus the chicken comes to $6.00 for four servings? Thanks!

Here’s another side dish, SOUTHWESTERN ROASTED CARROTS, you could serve with any of these chicken dishes. It’s cheaper than any of the sides I’ve suggested so far. A batch of these will cost about 60 cents.

And a final recipe. Or more of an idea than a recipe. You’ve probably heard of this or some variation on it. There are lots of recipes for SALSA CHICKEN. Basically, you just season some chicken (taco seasoning is easy, or sprinkle the chicken with salt, pepper, and cumin) and then cook it either on top of the stove or in the oven until the chicken is done. Pour some salsa (you pick the heat) over the top of the chicken and sprinkle some shredded cheddar over the salsa. Cook it for about 10 minutes more or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Assuming four leg quarters, a cup of salsa and a cup of cheese, you’re looking at about $4.20 for four servings.

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