Sunday Suppers

Crispy Baked Chicken Leg Quarters

With the prices of beef, pork, and chicken all on the rise this year, budget-concious cooks have to try a little harder to keep costs under control. When it comes to chicken, three things can usually save you money: skin, bones, and dark meat. (Buying larger “value packs” can also save money, but food waste can be a bigger issue if you live alone.) Bonus: those cost-saving traits also make for tastier meat.

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I love chicken leg quarters as single-serving, economical main dishes that also taste great. Four quarters costs about $5, regularly priced. For this recipe, I used low-sodium soy sauce, which provides a flavorful foundation. Workhorse seasonings – garlic and onion powder, Lawry’s seasoning, and pepper — go with everything and cost (at most) pennies per meal. Paired with your choice of seasonal vegetables, this entire meal can easily come together for under $10, or $2.50 per serving.

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Crispy Baked Chicken Leg Quarters

4 skin-on, bone-in chicken leg quarters
1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Seasoning salt
Black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 9×13 baking dish with foil.

Trim any excess fat from chicken. Use your fingers to separate the skin from the meat, eithout completely detaching it (you will end up with a “flap” of skin). Using a silicone basting brush,  generously brush soy sauce under skin. Season with garlic powder, onion powder, and seasoning salt.

Arrange chicken skin-side up in baking dish. Generously brush with additional soy sauce. Sprinkle with seasoning salt and pepper.

Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour. Increase temperature to 400 degrees; bake an additional 15 minutes until chicken is done and skin is crispy. Let sit 5 minutes before serving. 

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Applejack-Braised Pork

It’s harvest time across America. My favorite childhood memories of the farm involved riding in a combine during corn harvest. It’s mesmerizing. I hit the jackpot last week at work, accompanying a journalist on a harvest ride-along.

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When you grow up in an ag family, fall is just as synonymous with harvest as picking apples or watching football. And when the weather turns chilly, I turn to slow cooking.

This pork goes great with so many things — sauteed apples, root vegetables, roasted cauliflower, or polenta, to name a few.

Happy harvest!

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Applejack-Braised Pork Loin
Serves about 5

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 pound boneless pork loin
Salt and pepper
2 shallots, chopped
1/3 cup Applejack or other apple brandy
1 1/2 cups beef stock or broth (or try apple cider)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a 1.5 quart Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Add oil. Season pork with salt and pepper. Sear pork on all sides, about 8-10 minutes. (If necessary, cut meat into 3-4 pieces and work in batches.) Place meat on a platter.

Add shallots to pan; cook 3-5 minutes until soft and translucent. Remove from heat. Deglaze the pan by pouring in brandy and scraping up the browned bits. Return pan to heat. Add pork and stock. The meat will not be completely submerged. Heat to a simmer.

Cover pot with lid and transfer to oven. Cook until fork-tender, about 2 hours, turning meat halfway through. Place meat on a platter. Let sit for 10 minutes. Shred with a fork. Spoon pan sauce over meat.

Turkey Meatloaf Cups

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Meatloaf: the ugly workhorse of the comfort food family. It certainly doesn’t look beautiful, but it gets the job done.

Meatloaf freezes fairly well, but if you freeze all the slices together, it’s not very convenient to remove a single serving later. I adapted my regular meatloaf recipe slightly to make individual servings in meatloaf cups, which I can then reheat as many as I want at a time. Use ground turkey or beef that’s higher in fat content, or it can get really dry.

They’re not going to look beautiful coming out of the oven, but I promise, you’ll like them.

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Turkey Meatloaf Cups

Serves 6

1/2 medium yellow onion,  diced
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup beef stock (or more)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 pounds ground turkey (80-85% lean) (or substitute ground beef)
2/3 cup dry breadcrumbs (or more)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Ketchup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or spray 12 muffin cups.

In a small saute pan, cook onions, olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme over medium-low heat until translucent, about 12-15 minutes. Add Worcestershire, stock, and tomato paste. Mix well. Let cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl, combine meat, bread crumbs, eggs and onion. Mix well. Add more broth or breadcrumbs as needed. Divide into 12 portions and place in muffin tins. Top with ketchup (1-2 teaspoons per meatloaf cup, or as desired).

Place muffin tin on a large baking sheet and put in the center of the oven. Bake until internal temperature reads 160 degrees, about 40 minutes.

Let cool for 10 minutes before removing from tins. Serve with additional ketchup, if desired.