Hoisin-braised cabbage, chicken & mushrooms: $1.19/bowl

I admit it—I’m a latecomer to the cabbage party. (Although in my mind it always looked something like this, so it’s not like I’m heartbroken over having missed anything.) My husband, who is of Croatian descent and EXTREMELY fond of cabbage, had issued many invitations over the years, but with the taste, texture and smell…I just couldn’t. It was like an enormous Brussels sprout farting in my face. That is, until one day, when I decided to include cabbage in some potstickers I was making. Just a few shreds here and there. I didn’t vomit, or even really notice the cabbage at all. Next thing I knew I was including it in stir-fries, sneaking a bit into slaws…I even made a couple iterations of cabbage rolls. I still wouldn’t consider myself a VIP at the party just yet, but I’m definitely leaps and bounds beyond where I was three years ago.

This dish is loosely based on a Chinese-style chicken recipe I found long ago in an issue of Gourmet (RIP). I feel the hoisin and star anise complement the flavor of the cabbage, while the cabbage provides a bit of welcome crunch and freshness. This recipe is easily halved; in fact, if there are three or fewer people in your household, I’d recommend doing so, unless you want to be eating this every day for lunch for the foreseeable future.

• 4 chicken thighs (I used boneless and skinless, but bone-in and skin-on is actually best): $1.76
• 2.5 to 3 oz. dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in boiling water until pliable, sliced: $2.49
• 1/2 head regular ol’ green cabbage, cut into strips: 64 cents
• 1 bunch green onions, chopped: 59 cents
• 6 large cloves garlic, chopped: 18 cents
• 1 T minced ginger: 10 cents
• 3 1/2 cups chicken broth (3 1/2 tsp. Better Than Bouillon): 24 cents
• 1/2 cup hoisin sauce: 44 cents
• 4 star anise: 12 cents
• 1 T sriracha: 6 cents
• 4 cups steamed rice (optional): 40 cents
• 2 T oil: 12 cents
TOTAL: $7.14/6 = $1.19/serving

Heat 1 T of oil in a wide pot over medium-high heat, sear the chicken on both sides, about 5 minutes per side, remove to a bowl. Add the mushrooms, all but 3 or so of the chopped green onions, garlic, and ginger to the pot (adding another T of oil if necessary), cook until mushrooms are tender. Return chicken to the pot and add chicken broth, hoisin sauce, and star anise. Simmer, covered, about 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked.

Remove chicken and, when cooled, discard the skin and pick the meat off the bones. If using skinless/boneless chicken, just slice into strips.

Boil sauce remaining in pot until reduced to about 2 cups. Add cabbage and sriracha, boil until cabbage is softened; return chicken to pot and simmer until everything is heated through.

Remove star anise and serve over optional rice, with remaining chopped green onions as garnish.

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