How Ina Garten Upgrades Cheap Chicken Cuts With Luxuriously Creamy Sauce

Ina Garten may be known for the elegant flair she brings to the table when it comes to hosting dinner guests in her East Hampton home, but she has never been shy about owning her easy-breezy style. The cookbook author and television host doesn't just make it look easy, she makes sure the recipes and tips she passes along to her fans are always simple and accessible. In a 2011 episode of her Food Network television show, "The Barefoot Contessa," Garten showcased her high-low food prep philosophy. That is, her affinity for mixing fancy with casual to create simple, but elegant food. The strategy incorporates lush sauces, which can be a great way to elevate inexpensive proteins. While the featured recipes on the episode included roast filet of beef with mustard mayo horseradish as a main course, Garten's 2018 cookbook "Cook Like a Pro," includes a recipe for chicken thighs with a similar mustard sauce.

Simple enough to whip together for a weeknight dinner, yet refined enough to serve guests, Garten's Chicken Thighs with Creamy Mustard Sauce recipe is an easy-to-make meal centered on a relatively inexpensive protein. "I like doing the high-low thing: Taking an inexpensive cut of meat like chicken thighs and serving it with a rich, flavorful sauce made with white wine, crème fraîche, and lots of mustard," Garten wrote in the recipe introduction.

Let your palate be your guide

Another fan favorite, Garten's Parmesan Chicken recipe calls for boneless chicken breasts, but could easily be adapted using lower-priced boneless chicken thighs, especially because the chicken is pounded to a quarter-inch before it's coated with a Parmesan crumb blend and sautéed to golden goodness. Or just channel your inner Garten and create a custom sauce. Not a fan of mustard? Consider a twist on Garten's chicken thigh recipe. Experiment with alternate flavors like horseradish or wasabi. Craving Italian? Blend in a bit of tomato paste and garlic. For an Asian flair, incorporate ingredients like sweet chili sauce, soy sauce, and lime. The possibilities are endless. Let your palate be your guide.

While thighs remain at the low end of the scale in terms of price per pound of poultry – leg quarters hold the title for least expensive cut — chicken, in general, has historically been a more economical choice compared to beef or pork. It may not be the sexiest protein to grace American dinner tables, but it's definitely versatile. And the Barefoot Contessa has more than one poultry-centric trick up her sleeve. Garten's Skillet-Roasted Lemon Chicken is a simple dish that comes together in about an hour and it makes the most of every bite of a whole chicken using simple kitchen staples — thyme, fennel, olive oil, lemon, and garlic — that are probably already in your pantry. to create an impressive meal.