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Eat for Eight Bucks: Perfect Roast Chicken with Pomegranate Jus

Thomas Keller is not exactly known for recipe shortcuts, so when the man tells me that it takes two ingredients and minimal involvement to roast a chicken, I take notice.

I first took notice a year ago, and it's been perfect roast chicken ever since. I salt the bird like a blizzard, put it in a blazing hot oven, and leave it alone. No basting, no fussing—no stuffing, even. Which leaves me free to do other things, like make a nice bed of bacon-y winter greens on which to serve the roast chicken, and a sweet-and-sour pomegranate jus to drizzle over it.

If you celebrate that sort of thing (which, I confess, I do), this might make an elegant and inexpensive Valentine's Day supper.

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Since it's a special occasion, I'm breaking the bank just this once. In any case, the extra $3 I spent on a bottle of pomegranate molasses is a pretty sound investment. Imported from Egypt or Lebanon, the sticky pomegranate reduction has the multi-layered intensity of an aged balsamic vinegar and the price tag of a pint of beer. You'll find it in Middle Eastern grocery stores, and you'll use it in dressings and marinades for months to come.

The dish can be prepared without pomegranate molasses, but it does add a complex dimension to the roasting juices, and pairs exceptionally well with the earthy, metallic greens.

Shopping List

Note: Items bought in large quantities, like the bacon, 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.

One 3-pound chicken - $4.54
Pomegranate molasses - $2.95
Medium bunch of kale, or other leafy greens (about 3/4 pound) - $0.75
2 ounces bacon - $1 (total cost of item $4)
Small carrot and onion - $0.74

Pantry Items:
Coarse kosher salt, garlic, flour, butter, sugar, vegetable oil, black pepper

Total Cost:

$9.98

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Perfect Roast Chicken with Pomegranate Jus

When I was an exchange student in France, I learned to love my roast chicken as the French do, dispensing with floury gravies and using just the thin, highly seasoned juices from the roasting pan. If you like your jus a little closer to a gravy in consistency, make a beurre maniƩ (a paste of equal parts room-temperature, unsalted butter and all-purpose flour) and drop it into the simmering liquid a little at a time. It will thicken as it cooks.

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