Chicken with fig sauce

Chicken with fig sauce

I found this recipe from Mark Bittman’s blog a few weeks ago and thought, hmm this would taste good, and it sounds like it’d be pretty cheap too. Ah: gourmet on a budget.

This chicken tasted better than I thought it would, I was afraid the sweet would overwhelm the dish, but it doesn’t. It was exotic, complex, spicy, smoky, different, and interesting. The sweet hits your palate when you first take a bite, and then the spicy from the cayenne hits you at the finish. This recipe is totally a keeper. Plus, it takes 20-30 minutes to make, so not only is it cheap and good, it’s fast to make.

Budget: $10, serves approximately 4, so $2 a serving.

Recipe details after the jump.

A regular feature in which I cook cheap, gourmet dishes.

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Not very pretty, but very tasty French onion soup

Not very pretty, but very tasty French onion soup

OK, secret here: the cheapest dish you can make that is healthy, low calorie, and low fat is soup. I have so many soups in my repertoire, from butternut squash and apple (I make it without the cheese topping and it’s delicious), turkey chili, classic tomato soup, curried pea soup,  and the great summer hit peach and tomato gazpacho.

French onion soup, with the melted cheese topping, isn’t exactly low fat or calorie, but it is a great dish for these cold winter days. Like most soup, it does take time to make, but the reward is how cheap you can make it for. And, it’s so hearty it can be a whole meal for me, maybe with a side of salad.

I have to admit, I found this recipe harder to make than I expected. The onions took forever to caramelize, and I had to speed up the process by turning up the heat to make it in less than two hours. But, the results were still very tasty.

And, if anyone has any tips to get onions to caramelize in less than an hour and a half without turning the heat up, I’m all ears.

Budget: $10, makes about 4-6 servings, $1.66-$2.50 a serving.

Recipe details after the jump.

A regular feature in which I cook cheap, gourmet dishes.

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Inspired by many features, most recently Best Bite’s Kelly Dinardo’s Frugal Foodie (and also inspired by being unemployed) I’ve decided to start a regular feature in which I spotlight great dishes made on an unemployed writer’s budget. As with many other similar features, I won’t include pantry staples (onions, garlic, olive oil, butter, dried spices, eggs, flour etc) in the final price.

Coq au vin

Coq au vin

First up: coq au vin, that classic French dish that many may consider too gourmet to make on their own, or too expensive, because it’s French or something. Well here I am to prove you wrong.

Budget: $20, including wine and port, serves 6 to 8 – so per serving this dish costs $2 to $3. This dish would obviously be a lot cheaper without the bottle of wine needed.

I started off of a Epicurious recipe that stayed (mostly) true to the classic French dish and modified it to make it a bit easier as well as cheaper. This can be time consuming, but I have some suggestions for time-saving techniques if you don’t want to make this an overnight affair. More details after the jump.

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