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A Budget Friendly and Delicious Italian Dinner


It’s been a very long time since I have followed a recipe to the letter, but when the recipe comes from America’s Test Kitchen, I don’t feel the need to mess with things on the first try.  This past Saturday as I tried in vain to burn a few calories on the treadmill, I watched their Italian Comfort Classics episode from beginning to end. And, consequently, hopped off the treadmill and headed to Shoprite.  (Hopping off the treadmill and grocery shopping burns calories folks, I promise. )

If you’ve never caught an episode of America’s Test Kitchen, you should.  I just love their Saturday Night Live’ esque intro. What I really love about the show is that they test many versions of one recipe until they come up with the winner and then explain why that particular recipe version worked the best. So, its interesting and educational.

On Saturday’s episode, they demonstrated Chicken Canzanese and Creamy Polenta. I added a side of Garlicky Broccolini to round out the dish.

What I loved about it:

A.  Its inexpensive. Eight chicken thighs cost pennies less than $5 at Shoprite. Polenta, a couple bucks for a bag that will last months probably. The amount of prosciutto required is minimal. The only relatively expensive ingredient is the 2 cups of white wine.  All the other ingredients I had on hand either in the garden or pantry. If you don’t have fresh sage and rosemary growing, it will obviously be more expensive to make. (Tip: Plant some Sage this year. It comes back year after year, and is wonderful in so many ways. The same goes for Oregano. You can read more about my love affair with fresh herbs here.)

B. I love a dish that starts on the stove top and finishes in the oven. You can sit down with a magazine and a glass of wine and relax while dinner cooks and makes the house smell amazing.

and C. It was delicious. The skin is so crispy you can hear it crackle as you fork each piece onto the plate. The sauce is aromatic and glossy and elegant. It elevates the $5 chicken thighs to restaurant worthy fare. Pair it with the Creamy Parmesan Polenta and Garlicky Broccolini courtesy of Rachel Ray, and you have one crowd pleasing Sunday supper.

Notes: I had to brown chicken in batches, and it took 7 minutes on the first side to get them as brown as demonstrated in the video.  The whole episode is available online here. I recommend watching. It will make preparing the meal a breeze. If you give it a try, please come back and leave your comments. Did you pair it with something else? Please share your tips with our readers.

Deborah Smith , Founder and Executive Editor of JerseyBites.com.  Launched in 2007 as a home for her growing collection of recipes, Jersey Bites soon grew into a hub for all things edible in the Garden State. Deborah is also the owner of Parents With Nannies, Inc. which operates a network of nanny employment websites established in 1999.  In her spare time, (Ha) she works as a Social Media consultant and speaker.  You can learn more about her services and marketing through social media on her blog www.DeborahLSmith.com

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