Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Chicken Leg Quarters and the Weekly Specials with Mary Anne

There are no great sales on meat this week, so we’ll have to stick with my old standby, the 10-pound bags of chicken leg quarters at Walmart. They usually run $5.90 for the 10 pounds, so it’s 59 cents a pound. More about this in a minute, but first a few other things that are on sale this week.

Aldi has onions, 99 cents for a 3-pound bag. That’s a fabulous price! They have them at this price every few months, and I usually try to get enough to last me until the next time they go on sale. They also have cabbage for 99 cents, but the ads don’t say how much the cabbage weighs, so there’s no way to tell whether it’s a good price or not, without actually seeing them.

Marsh has pork shoulder steaks for $1.69 per pound, and Kroger has boneless pork loin for $1.87 per pound. I gave pork recipes the last three weeks, so I’ll skip them this week. Don’t forget that you can slice the pork loin into boneless pork chops, and you can cook the pork shoulder steaks (one of my very favorite cuts!) as you would pork chops.

But back to the chicken. Walmart almost always has the 10-pound bags for $5.90, or 59 cents a pound. A 10-pound bag usually has 10 leg quarters. Each leg quarter can be cut into three pieces, a thigh, a drumstick, and a bit of back. Just to give a bit of comparison in case you’re not up on chicken prices, Aldi’s regular price for a whole frozen chicken is 89 cents a pound, and Marsh has family packs of drumsticks or thighs on sale this week for $1.29 a pound. It’s well worth taking the time to cut up the leg quarters. It takes a bit of practice, but once you know how to do it, it goes quickly.

A leg quarter yields about a cup of cooked meat.

Be sure to save your bones after you’ve cooked your chicken. They can be made into bone-broth, which is a very flavorful and nutritious broth that can be used to make soups. I freeze it in pint containers, then take out a container or two whenever I want to make soup. You can also freeze the broth in ice cube trays, then put the cubes of frozen broth in a plastic bag. Measure your ice cube trays; one cube is probably between 2 tablespoons and a fourth of a cup.

About the easiest way to cook the chicken legs, and the way I fix them most often, is to just make ROASTED CHICKEN LEG QUARTERS. It’s easy, good, and cheap.  The skin gets all crisp and yummy and is best eaten immediately, before it loses its crispness. To jazz it up a bit, you can use other seasonings instead of just salt and pepper. Here are a few possibilities. Or use your favorite seasoning or seasoning blend.
            Onion salt and pepper
            Salt and lemon pepper seasoning
            Onion powder, salt and pepper
            Chicken BBQ rub
            Poultry seasoning
            Jerk seasoning
Assuming that each person gets a whole leg quarter, this should cost just over 60 cents per serving, depending on the seasonings.

Only slightly more complicated, because you have to think about it early enough to make the marinade, is LEMON LEGS. The drippings are great poured over cooked broccoli, zucchini, summer squash, green beans, or other veggies and serve as a side dish. Do not eat the unused marinade without bringing it to a boil first! Assuming that each person gets one leg quarter, this should run about 80 cents per serving, not counting the vegetables. A big zucchini at the Farmers Market would cost about 75 cents and would serve at least three people, so there’s another 25 cents a serving. If you slice a couple of carrots on the diagonal and cook them along with the zucchini, it looks much nicer and would make four servings, at about 25 cents per serving, or $1.05 per serving with the chicken, and the servings are quite generous. Or get one of the big, oddly shaped red bell peppers at the Farmers Market and cook it with the zucchini, and make a CARROT SALAD out of the carrots. A full recipe of LEMON LEGS, a big zucchini cooked with a red bell pepper, and a batch of CARROT SALAD would cost about $5.20, or about $1.31 for each of four servings.

Or you can cook the chicken and the vegetables together in a one-dish meal, as in the aptly named CHICKEN AND VEGETABLES. The original recipe just called for broccoli and squash, but the pepper adds a nice bit of color. A thinly sliced carrot would do the same thing. One of the stalls at the Farmers Market has big but oddly shaped yellow and red bell peppers for 50 cents each. I get extras, dice them, then spread them out on a cookie sheet in the freezer for a few hours. Then I put the diced peppers in plastic bags and freeze them for use the rest of the year. A few tablespoons of red or yellow pepper really makes a difference in the appearance of a dish.These quantities make four really big servings, for about $1.35 each. The servings are big enough that nothing else is needed. If you decide to make more servings out of it, increase the frozen broccoli (98 cents a pound at Walmart) and add a salad or some fresh fruit. 

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