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Savory meals to feed 4 for under $12

As part of TODAY’s Everything Cheaper hour, chefs Norman King and Kelsey Nixon compete against each other in a cheap chicken challenge — to make savory dinners for four, for under $12. On the head-to-head menus: chicken piccata and crispy chicken thighs.

Chicken piccata
Servings:

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

    • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
    • Kosher salt
    • Freshly cracked black pepper
    • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
    • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
    • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Place the chicken breast on a cutting board. Keeping your knife parallel to the cutting board, place your knife into the thickest part of the chicken breast. Slice horizontally all the way through the chicken breast to make 2 thinner pieces that are about 1/2-inch thick. Repeat with the other chicken breast. Sprinkle the chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken in the flour, shaking off any excess.Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until glossy and starting to sizzle. Place 2 pieces of chicken in the hot skillet and cook until golden brown on one side, 3 to 5 minutes. Then flip and continue cooking until each piece is cooked through, about 1 minute longer. Transfer the cooked chicken to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Pour off the remaining butter and oil and wipe out the skillet. Add another 2 tablespoons each of butter and olive oil to the skillet and repeat the same steps for the 2 additional chicken pieces. Keep all cooked chicken pieces warm under the foil.Make a pan sauce by adding the broth, capers and lemon zest and juice to the skillet, and bring to a boil. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan; incorporating the fond into the sauce will add a lot of flavor. Cook until reduced by half, 3 to 5 minutes. Then remove the skillet from the heat and whisk in the last 4 tablespoons butter. Adjust the seasoning. Return the chicken to the skillet and turn to coat. Serve the pan sauce over the chicken and garnish with the parsley.

Herbed angel hair pasta
Servings:

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

    • 12 ounces angel hair pasta
    • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
    • Freshly cracked black pepper
    • Kosher salt
    • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
    • 1 lemon, zested

Preparation

Baking Directions:

In a large pasta pot, bring salted water to boil. Add the angel hair pasta and cook to al dente, about 4 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Toss the pasta together with the butter, Parmesan, parsley and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper.

Haricots verts almondine
Servings:

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

    • Kosher salt
    • 3 tablespoons almonds
    • 1 pound haricots verts (French string beans)
    • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 shallots, minced
    • Freshly cracked black pepper
    • 1/2 lemon, zested and juiced

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, toast the almonds over medium-high heat until golden brown and fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the pan, finely chop and set aside.Blanch the string beans in salted boiling water until crisp but tender, 2 to 3 minutes. The salt will impart flavor as well as help keep the string beans crisp. Immediately drain and run cold water over the beans or plunge into an ice bath to cool and stop the cooking process, then remove and completely dry.Return the sauté pan to the burner over medium heat and melt the butter with the olive oil. Add the shallots, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook until starting to brown, stirring occasionally, 3 to 5 minutes. Toss the drained beans with the shallots and add the lemon zest and juice. Cook to heat the beans completely through, 1 to 2 minutes.Remove from the heat and season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Toss with the toasted chopped almonds and transfer to a serving dish.

Crispy chicken thighs
Servings:

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

    • 4 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
    • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
    • 1 teaspoon olive oil
    • 1 large bunch collard greens
    • 2 carrots
    • Pinch of sugar
    • Kosher salt and pepper
    • 1-2 teaspoon lemon juice

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper and paprika.Heat oil in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over high heat until oil just begins to smoke.Place chicken in skillet, skin sides down; reduce heat to medium-high, and cook 10 to 12 minutes or until skin is a deep golden brown. Turn chicken over and bake at 400 degrees 20 to 25 minutes or until done.Meanwhile, separate collard greens into leaves. Trim and discard tough stalk from center of leaves; stack leaves and roll up, starting at 1 long side. Cut into 1/4 inch-thick slices; rinse under cold running water. Drain well. Cut carrots lengthwise into very thin, ribbon-like strips using a vegetable peeler.When chicken is cooked, transfer to a plate. Return skillet to stove over medium-high heat; add collards and carrots and sauté 2 to 3 minutes or until crisp tender. Season with a pinch of sugar; salt and pepper, to taste; and fresh lemon juice.

New south dumplings
Servings:

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

    • 1 16-oz. package potato gnocchi
    • 1 teaspoon olive oil
    • 1-2 teaspoon gremolata
    • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
    • Kosher salt and pepper

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Prepare gnocchi according to package directions in a large sauce pan. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid.Return pan to stove over medium heat. Add oil and cooked gnocchi and stir until coated; add gremolata and sauté 1 minute. Stir in reserved cooking liquid and lemon juice; season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Gremolata
Servings:

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

    • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
    • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Combine parsley, garlic and lemon zest in a small bowl.

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