Posts Tagged ‘cheap recipes’

An Ode to Chicken: Chapter 4 — Finding Delight in Cheap Eats

Monday, August 2nd, 2021

My favorite food has been, and most likely will always be, chicken. 

I love chicken there is no denying that. My attempts at being vegetarian in the past have all failed at the sight of chicken tenders. It’s America’s favorite protein and the key to my heart. It’s chicken

Growing up in a family of five, there were many nights my parents didn’t have time to prepare a meal. Juggling full-time jobs and three kids, there were many evenings that we called upon our favorite cheap and easy restaurant: The Flying Chicken. The unsuspecting little restaurant, with orange walls and just a few tables, was known for selling out quickly, with only a few chickens left at the end of the day but only if you were lucky. 

Another favorite of mine in Chicago: Brasa Roja. When The Flying Chicken closed its doors for good, this is where we satisfied all our cravings. 

Pollo a la brasa, or grilled chicken, is something Colombia has mastered as a country. With perfect golden skin, every piece is just as juicy as the next. Although it might seem simple, Colombian grilled chicken is an art in itself. The chicken must marinate in a mixture of spices like oregano, thyme, cumin, and cilantro before being grilled to perfection. It’s a tedious process with results that are worth it. 

When my father would bring home white plastic bags filled with huge styrofoam boxes, I knew what was coming: pieces of roasted chicken sitting atop white rice, chunks of potatoes, and arepas made from corn flour stuffed with cheese. My brothers and I fought for whatever remained, always unsatisfied with the amount given. 

Although chicken might seem to be the focus here, the real point of what I’m talking about is how food does not need to be fancy to be considered “good.” Pollo a la brasa, albeit underrated and difficult to perfect, is not fancy food. It’s simple food that is meant to be eaten with your hands and an abundance of napkins, with oil stains collecting on the front of your shirt. Despite this, it remains one of my favorite meals because of the amount of flavor packed into a $12 styrofoam tray. 

The traditional way of cooking pollo a la brasa. Although seems like rotisserie chicken, it is considered grilled. 

I’m not saying expensive food isn’t good; I work in a restaurant with high prices and amazing meals. But, expensive food is not always attainable for college students. This has led to me exploring the hidden restaurants tucked into corners on empty streets or exploring local grocery stores for good eats. 

On the nights where I am desperately missing pollo a la brasa, I take myself to the grocery store and pick up the next best thing a rotisserie chicken. The possibilities of rotisserie chickens are endless: chicken salad, tacos, burritos, buffalo chicken dip, sandwiches, and more. All for $10. 

The flavor might not be the same, but no one said you can’t doctor up a rotisserie chicken to your own liking! Personally, I love to shred mine. Then, when I’m ready to eat I’ll season it according to what I’m craving. This is a great way to not only get the most out of what you’re paying for but also being able to experiment with a wide range of different recipes. Like I said before, the beauty of chicken is chicken. It’s easy, versatile, and cost-friendly. Don’t be afraid to prepare it in new ways! Your options are endless from fried, baked, seared, and stuffed chicken. Whatever you’re heart desires. Just be sure to share, and remember: all food is good food. It doesn’t have to be fancy, expensive, or covered in spices you can’t pronounce to be considered tasty. Take delight in the cheap eats, and share the deliciousness with others! 

If you’re curious about pollo a la brasa, I recommend trying Tio Pio! They have a great roasted chicken that is similar in flavor to the real deal. Check out the coupon below for a delicious burrito from them! 

By: Allegra Ruiz

Allegra Ruiz is a junior at New York University and she is from Chicago. She studies English and is minoring in Creative Writing. In her free time, she enjoys journaling, reading books and essay collections, and cooking for her roommates. Currently, she lives quietly in New York. 

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