Korean fried chicken: $2.12/serving

Fried chicken can be expensive. Not only is there the cost of the chicken itself, there’s also the copious amount of oil used to fry it in. But did you know you can re-use fryer oil several times, even if it was used to cook meat? Just strain it when you’re done and store it in the fridge or freezer. This way $4 worth of oil (provided you’re already buying it inexpensively in bulk) becomes $2 or even $1 worth. Also, while it’s cheapest to just buy a whole chicken and cut it up yourself, it’s often possible to find packages of drumsticks on markdown—not a lot of people seem to buy them, especially the big packages of 16 or more, so be on the lookout. When you see them, take them home, package them into manageable portions, and freeze them. This particular version of fried chicken was born of just that: a package of drumsticks on major markdown, plus a bounty of garlic harvested from my neighbor’s yard. (The pineapple was not on sale, but I’m going to invoke the pregnancy pass for that one.)

As below, it makes about 3 servings. You’ll need to plan a little bit ahead to roast the garlic for the purée: Preheat the oven to 400 F, toss the garlic cloves in a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast until soft and fragrant (you’ll be able to smell when they’re getting close).

Also, you can use whole chicken or drumsticks for this; if you use whole chicken, be sure to leave the skin on and cook the breasts for a little less time than the dark meat.

Pineapple is admittedly not the cheapest side to go with this, but rice or a salad would be.

Also, look at all this garlic!

That is all.

• Fryer oil (oil used for frying meat can be re-used a few times so long as it’s stored in the fridge or freezer; this price is the average cost per use using this method): $2
• 8 chicken drumsticks (on serious markdown at Grocery Outlet): $3
• 2 T chopped green onions, for garnish (garden): $0
• 1 T sesame seeds, for garnish: 15 cents
• 1/2 cup chicken broth or stock: 4 cents
• 1/2 cup brown sugar: 12 cents
• 1/2 cup soy sauce: 30 cents
• 1/2 cup mirin: 75 cents
• 1 cup roasted garlic cloves, pureed (garden): $0
TOTAL: $6.36/2 = $2.12/serving

This chicken uses the double-fry method usually reserved for buffalo wings (adapted from Debbie Lee’s Seoultown Kitchen): You’re going to fry it until partially cooked, then let it cool, then fry it again to crisp up the skin; this way the skin gets as crisp as possible while the inside doesn’t overcook. I fry my chicken in a Dutch oven, but heat your oil in whatever vessel you usually use to fry in (make sure there’s enough oil to completely submerge the contents) to 375 F. Add the chicken and cook for about 8 minutes; no seasoning or breading needed. Remove to a cookie sheet and set aside to cool.

Combine the glaze ingredients in a medium-large saucepan and bring to a low boil.

Simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until it has reduced and thickened. Set aside.

Return the oil to 375 F. Add the chicken and fry for about 5 minutes more or until cooked through; for dark meat, the temperature should read 160 F. Immediately transfer to the glaze, turn to coat, and let sit for a few minutes to absorb.

Sprinkle with green onions and sesame seeds and serve.

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