Serious Eats: Recipes

Eat For Eight Bucks: Paprika-Braised Chicken with Chickpea Puree and Crispy Shallots

Editor's note: Isn't it nice to pay with a ten, but still get change? In her new series "Eat for Eight Bucks," our Michele Humes will help you fix up a tasty spread for two, but still get two bucks back (at least). Take it away, Michele! --Erin

I quit a job in PR to go to culinary school. And I've been living out the financial consequences of pursuing what I love ever since.

In the year since graduating, I've developed a way of cooking for me and my boyfriend that's honest, nourishing, even sophisticated--but always with one eye on the piggy bank. This is the spirit of Eat for Eight Bucks.

Today's Special: Paprika-braised chicken

This is a stripped-down take on that venerable Spanish dish, the cocido. Who has the time (or the cauldron) to boil nine different meats and a bushel of chickpeas? In my version, thighs and drumsticks are braised in a salt pork and paprika broth that's swirling with spinach and redolent of Spain. I haven't forgotten about the chickpeas--they're served on the side, in a creamy puree topped with crispy shallots.

All this, for $7.58.

The Shopping List

Note: Items bought in large quantities, like salt pork, have been pro-rated for cost. Ingredients a cook can reasonably be expected to have on hand are considered "Pantry Items" and are not factored into recipe cost.

4 chicken pieces (1 lb) - $2.27
2 oz of a 12-oz package of salt pork - $0.45 (total cost of item - $2.66)
1 14.5-oz can chicken stock - $1.39
1 15.5-oz can chickpeas - $0.99
1 each onion, carrot and shallot - $0.89
1 package frozen chopped spinach - $1.59

Pantry Items
Vegetable oil; extra virgin olive oil; salt and pepper; cornstarch; flour; paprika, preferably smoked; ground cumin

Total Cost


Star Ingredients


Lately, I'm loving Hormel Salt Pork, the unsung hero of cured meats. In its unglamorous way, it does the same job as pancetta--and it does it at one-third the price. Dice it up and render its fat; you'll barely see it in the finished dish, but you'll taste its savory influence in every bite.


Dark meat is your friend. America's insatiable appetite for breast (that's chicken breast, folks) has driven the price of white meat through the roof. Luckily, budget-friendly dark meat tastes better in braises anyway. Just be sure to give the skin a thorough, golden sear, and the meat will surprise you with its succulence.

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