How to wow on a budget
I've invited a date over for dinner. I would like to make a stellar meal for the two of us but I'm on a budget. Any hot ideas or reccomendations? Thanks!
Chicken thighs! People always rely on skinless boneless chicken breasts when they cook chicken, but in fact, the meat is both bland and expensive. If you prepare your thighs right, you'll have a wonderful end result that is super-cheap.
One of my family's favorites is what I call a summer cacciatore. It's skinless, boneless thighs, browned and cooked with sausages, wine, broth, fresh tomatoes, onions, basil, red peppers, spinach...whatever sounds good. Your chicken will be tender and juicy and the dinner is great.
Or, if you want something more casual, you can always look up a nice glaze, maybe a plum bbq sauce or something. Bake your skin-on thighs on high heat until they are done, brush on the glaze and finish in the broiler.
I'd suggest making risotto and a nice salad. The rice is a tad expensive, but you can take advantage of all the wonderful produce available right now. Here's a risotto I made last summer with zucchini and zucchini flowers that we loved:
Another great risotto is with tomatoes, smoked mozzarella and basil.
Pork tenderloin - Bon Appetit has a wonderful recipe for orange chipotle pork tenderloin. I bought a tenderloin yesterday for $5 and it is more than enough for 2 healthy appetites. Then accompany with some other Mexican recipes or simply classic white rice, grilled veggies, creme caramel for dessert.
Beer can chicken is awesome, as is grilled lemon chicken under a brick (Batali).
I had surprise guests this weekend and had to make do with a $25 budget and 6 hours to come up with the following:
Appetizers: Potato croquettes with chipotle yogurt and saffron aioli
Salad: Thai basil and romaine salad with Sriracha dressing
Mains: Red curry tofu; Chicken adobo
Sides: Steamed rice
Dessert: Avocado-coconut ice cream
With the champagne I had on hand, it turned out to be a very cheap and well-received meal for 3 that has provided enough leftovers for lunch and dinner today and yesterday.