b0519 BC-FEA-Food-SpendThrift 04-03 0539

SPEND/THRIFT: Use whole chicken to save money

Eds: The Thrifty Feast column offers tips and recipes for cooking on a budget. Most meals will serve four with leftovers for under $10. It moves every other week.

AP Photo NYLS107, NYLS108


For The Associated Press


Boneless breast usually is what comes mind when you think of chicken recipes that are quick enough for weeknight suppers. But buying just the breasts can be costly; you’re paying for the convenience.

Opting for a whole bird is by far the more budget-conscious way to go, but who has time to roast a chicken midweek?

This salsa-simmered chicken with rice offers the best of both worlds. It uses a less expensive whole bird that you cut into quarters so that it cooks quickly enough to prepare during the week.

This one-skillet meal can be prepared in about 40 minutes and costs just over $1 per serving.

The chicken is browned in olive oil, then simmered in salsa that’s been spiked with garlic, oregano and some ground cinnamon.

Salsa is an economical prepared ingredient because it adds many flavors from one jar. Use a tomato salsa with a heat level that suits your tastes. The rice is added to the skillet during the last 20 minutes.

To cut some fat and calories from the dish, remove the skin from the chicken before browning.




Start to finish: 40 minutes (20 minutes active)

Servings: 6

4-pound whole chicken, quartered

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 teaspoons minced garlic


1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/4 cups chicken broth

1 cup thick tomato salsa

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 cup white rice

Season the chicken with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high, heat the oil. Add the chicken and cook, turning occasionally, until very well browned on all sides, about 15 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.


Add the garlic, oregano and cinnamon to the skillet and cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic begins to color, about 30 seconds. Stir in the chicken broth, salsa and lemon juice.

Bring the mixture to a simmer and stir in the rice. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Return the chicken to the pan and cover tightly. Cook until the rice has absorbed all the liquid and the chicken is no longer pink at the center, about 20 minutes.

Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 261 calories; 71 calories from fat; 8 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 71 mg cholesterol; 26 g carbohydrate; 20 g protein; 1 g fiber; 581 mg sodium.

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