Another cheap eats recipe! Whether you’re in a pinch for money or rent is due next week, I gotchu covered. For less than $10 worth of groceries, I’m able to feed both my boyfriend and myself dinner for an entire week. Granted, the food is a little repetitive, but nothing a little melted cheese or hot sauce can’t fix.
The family pack of 8 chicken thighs (skin-on, bone-in) was about $6 total (less than $1.50 per pound for 4.5 lbs). A 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes usually goes for $1 when on sale. And the rest of the veg and seasonings should be already pantry-staples, or if not, worth only pennies to the dollar. With this recipe, I’ll make enough chicken to split between a pound of pasta ($1) and pound rice ($1).
It should take you two batches to brown the chicken in the Instant Pot. Browning chicken = free flavor.
Once the chicken is browned, remove and set to the side. Lower saute mode to medium and add the onions, stirring very frequently. On the contrary, we don’t want these to brown at all.
At this point you should be stirring the pot with one hand and drinking a glass of wine with the other. Splash about half a glass (or at least 1/2 cup) of preferably tasty red wine to the bottom of the IP to deglaze the onions. If for whatever reason there is no wine handy (bless your soul), not to fret – the tomato sauce will be just fine.
Add the tomato sauce and try to pick up any fond (browned bits) remaining on the bottom of the pot. Then add the parsley, garlic, and any additional seasonings and stir thoroughly (I added a sprinkle of salt, a lot of black pepper, and a few shakes of garlic powder).
Once everyone is nice and toasty, throw back in all of the chicken pieces and top the pot off with just enough water to cover the goods. The pot should be pretty full by this point, so it will take extra time to come to pressure – maybe even 20 minutes or so. Set the actual pressure cook time for just 10 minutes, pour the rest of your wine into your glass, and go watch an episode on Netflix or something because it’ll be a while.
After a slow release, pull out those juicy chicken pieces and set to the side to cool. Also peep how tender the meat is, falling right off the bone.
Once cooled, it should be quite easy to remove and discard any bones and fat pieces with your fingers. Give it a quick chop through and relish in all the flavored, tender chicken pieces you’ve made with little to no effort. Yasss!
But the chicken wasn’t the only bounty we received from the IP. Don’t forget about all that flavored liquid gold remaining. Half of the juice gets tossed with the al dente pasta and half goes into the almost-cooked white rice.
Same with the chicken chunks – split them in half and bestow upon your carb vessels.
As long as both the rice and pasta isn’t fully cooked through, a lot of the liquid will be soaked up and infused into the dish. So don’t worry if it looks like a lot of liquid because it’s really not.
You’ll need at least two large containers to store each of the dishes in your fridge. Make sure your fam is hungry, because it’s a lot of food to go through!
Not sure how successful these would be for freezing in zip-lock bags, but it’s worth looking into. I’ve been able to freeze both rice and pasta in the past, and thawed back to room temperature with no issues.
- family pack of chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on, about 4-5 lbs (usually in a pack of 8 thighs)
- 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
- 1 onion, chopped
- 5 garlic cloves, chopped
- handful of parsley, chopped
- half a cup of red wine (chicken stock can be a good replacement, or omit all together)
- 1 lb pasta of your choice (I used farfalle)
- 1 lb white rice (about 2.5 cups)
- seasonings to taste (salt, pepper, garlic powder, red chili flakes)
- Set your Instant Pot on high heat saute mode. Drizzle a tablespoon or so of vegetable oil to the bottom. While heating, season both sides of the chicken with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and red chili flakes. Do so according to your personal taste, but about a tablespoon of each between all 8 thighs.
- Once IP is hot, work in batches to sear the chicken. Put 4 pieces of thighs skin-side down and sear for a few minutes until browned. Flip over and do the same to the other side; remove from IP once done. Repeat for the other 4 pieces and also set them to the side.
- In the now empty IP (besides the leftover fond), reduce heat to saute medium. Add the chopped onion and stir continuously for about 5 minutes. You want the onion to be slightly translucent, NOT brown.
- Assuming you’re like me, who cooks while drinking wine, splash about a half cup of wine to deglaze the pot (red preferable, but white is acceptable). If you don’t have wine, half a cup of chicken stock will work fine too. If none of which is possible, no problem – just add the tomato sauce and use that liquid to deglaze.
- Either with your wine, stock, or tomato sauce, begin scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. The longer the liquid gets heated on saute mode, the easier the fond should come off and be mixed with the sauce.
- Add the garlic and parsley and stir thoroughly. Taste for final seasoning. Simmer for just a few minutes more, then add all 8 pcs of chicken into the pot. Fill with just enough water to reach the top of the chicken pieces. I know it’ll look like a lot, but it’ll be fine.
- Close the lid properly and set the IP to pressure cook for 10 minutes. With so much liquid, the pressurizing time may take longer than usual. I think it was over 20 minutes for me. This gives you enough time to prepare the pasta and rice.
- Have 2 separate pots on the burner ready – one for 1 lb of pasta and 1 lb of rice. I don’t think I need to explain how to cook either of the which, but do it according to the directions, just short of a few minutes. The extra juice from the IP to follow will help cook the remaining carbs with some extra flavor. Keep both pots to the side while waiting for the chicken to be completed.
- Once the IP beeps that the 10 minutes have been up, turn off and set a timer for 10 minutes. Opening the IP too soon without depressurization for meat tends to dry it out.
- Take meat out and set to a heat-safe bowl and put in the fridge to cool. Get ready to separate the liquid leftover in the pot to both the rice and pasta vessel.
- Rice – should be about 5 minutes short of fully cooking according to package (so still liquidy and somewhat hard rice). Add half the sauce from the IP directly into the rice pot, stir, and close lid for remaining 5 minutes.
- Pasta – should have been drained and returned back to pot a few minutes short according to the directions. Add the remaining half liquid from the IP and stir on low heat with the pasta. A lot of liquid should soak up in the remaining few minutes. Close the lid if that helps too.
- While both the rice and pasta finishes cooking in the sauce, pull out the now cooled chicken. Throw away all bones, fat, or gristle. Chop the chicken to your desired size (I prefer smaller bites), and put half in with the pasta and half with the rice. Give it a final mix and ready to serve or put away for later.
- You’ll likely end up with 2 large containers worth of pasta and rice each. Portion them out however you want for the rest of the week. Some can even be put in a freezer bag to defrost at a later time.