Calculating the Costs: ‘Pan-Roasted Chicken with Harissa Chickpeas’

Here’s a new series! (Kind of.) I often browse various recipe sites looking for new dishes to try out, but the recipes very rarely tell you what it’ll end up costing you (unless it’s from a specific budget-conscious site like Budget Bytes).

The recipe I tested this weekend was one I found in the January issue of Bon Appétit for Pan-Roasted Chicken with Harissa Chickpeas, which I decided to try based on the photo and the fact that I had never cooked with harissa. Bon Appétit insisted that “harissa is a great shortcut ingredient to flavor,” and the number of ingredients seemed reasonable.

The cost breakdown:

• 1 tablespoon olive oil (I have a big bottle already, so, like five cents?)
• 8 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs (about 3 lb.) (I was only cooking for me, so I bought four “antibiotic-free” for $3.26.)
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (Most people have this on hand and the cost of this is practically negligible.)
• 1 small onion, finely chopped (40 cents)
• 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped (10 cents)
• 2 tablespoons tomato paste (Tube of tomato paste was $3.49, and I used a quarter, or 87 cents)
• 2 15-oz. cans chickpeas, rinsed (One can was $1.29)
• ¼ cup harissa paste (That tube of harissa—pictured—was $2.49, and I used about a fifth, or 50 cents)
• ½ cup low-sodium chicken broth (I had some in the freezer that I had made)
• ¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (This was essentially a garnish, so I didn’t buy it).
• Lemon wedges, for serving (50 cents)

The total cost of this recipe for me was $6.97, and made two meal servings, so about $3.50 per meal? Totally cheap. Chicken thighs are cheap—even when you pay more for ones that are antibiotic-free. Harissa is really spicy and you don’t need to use a lot of it, so I’m already looking up other ways to use the rest of the tube. The Bon Appétit version is on the left, and mine is on the right (obviously):

Verdict: Great recipe, totally worth it. Really easy. Would cook again.

Bonus: I saved the chicken fat (schmaltz!) and used some in place of olive oil to make a mustard dressing for some greens on the side, and it was great. I saved the rest in a little container in the fridge (I hear schmaltz is making a comeback).



19 Comments / Post A Comment

faustbanana (#2,376)

Mike, I think yours looks just as good as the one in Bon Appétit. And it’s probably not even drizzled with rubber cement or whatever other sorcery food stylists employ.

Cheap Healthy Good is a site I used to lean on quite a bit for simple stuff – she stopped posting in 2012, but there are voluminous archives. Recipes broken down not only by cost, but by nutritional value if you’re into that sorta thing.

Totally bookmarking this. Never cooked with harissa before either. YUM.

I’m a big fan of – simple, quick, easy, 5 ingredient meals.

sheistolerable (#2,382)

Seriously, it’s a good thing I’m married, as obsessing over awesome people on the internet never was good for me. HE COOKS!
Excited for this column!

halloliebchen (#5,373)

I JUST made this. I am a Bon Appetit addict.

Marge (#4,715)

Harissa’s awesome you can always sub pureed roast bell peppers if there’s a harissa shortage. It’s pepper paste.

RachelG8489 (#1,297)

@Marge Um, I wouldn’t do that if I were you. Bell peppers have basically nothing in common with the flavors of the chiles in harissa. Pureed roasted bell peppers will be sweet. Harissa is killer spicy.

Marge (#4,715)

@RachelG8489 My bad. I’m used to more sweet savory harissa I guess, similar to Avjar or other eggplant/pepper relishes.

If you’re looking for recipes to use up the rest of that tube, here’s one for harissa ravioli with broccoli and feta. It’s very fast & delicious.

RachelG8489 (#1,297)

@cuminafterall I’ll add to the “use up your harissa” recipes with this one! Carrot salad with harissa, feta, and mint. Delicious. A little more spring/summery though, don’t make this one until it’s warm out.

2for1cheesecake (#3,591)

@cuminafterall Here’s another great recipe that uses harissa:
(from the Smitten Kitchen book). I love harissa, and often add it to a dressing/sauce for warm steamed veggies, or in yogurt as a marinade for chicken or lamb.

Susan Tidebeck (#5,691)

I’d like to chime in on the great value of chicken thighs. I make this thing I call Garlic Bread Chicken which is chicken thighs spread with some minced garlic from a jar and sprinkled with bread crumbs, then broiled in a toaster oven.

Allison (#4,509)

@Susan Tidebeck that sounds delicious

ellabella (#1,480)

Mike, what do you do with the extra tomato paste? I never end up using the tomato paste can and then feel like I should just include the whole cost of the can in my recipe calculations.

Pro tip: Whole Foods does cell it in a tube, which is less gross than the 3/4 full can sitting in your fridge, and lasts forever-ish? But I usually can’t find it anywhere else, so end up getting the can and not using most of it.

ladybug (#2,583)

@ellabella I’ve portioned out 1 TB blobs that I put in a gladware and freeze. They usually pop out pretty easily to just use one at a time.

Mike Dang (#2)

@ellabella I bought the one in the tube, but I already used the rest to make marinara this week and added the harissa in it to give it a kick.

andnowlights (#2,902)

I include the whole cost of things like Harissa paste because I will probably never use it again, and it will go bad in the fridge. It’s a huge waste and I hate buying ingredients I’ll probably never use again, but if I didn’t, I’d get stuck eating the same things all the time (which I’m okay with most of the time, actually).

sariberry (#4,420)

Here’s my cooking problem… you buy something like harissa, and only use half of it on your recipe. So you need a new recipe to use up the harissa. You find one, but it requires new ingredients – say, a bag of potatoes. So in the process, you might generate yet another item that you have to use up. Eg, now you need a recipe for all the potatoes you didn’t use for the harissa.

This is not a tragedy, just something I am constantly dealing with as someone who likes to cook!

ceereelyo (#3,552)

Did not know Harissa came in tubes like that! I’ve only seen it in jars, I’ll have to keep an eye out for it. My friend also just made this recipe and it look sooo yummy.

I’m all about chicken thighs – cheaper and more flavor. I buy chicken breasts only if I am making something like chicken parm or chicken fingers. Even the boneless/skinless thighs are way cheaper than the chicken breasts.

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