You get to use fancy words like "reduction" and "macerated"

Don't use expensive balsamic vinegar for this one. Since you're cooking it down, the nuances that make the pricey kind worth it will cook away, so there's really no point.

The really beautiful thing about this recipe (besides how inexpensive it is, how few ingredients it requires, and how breathtakingly gorgeous it looks when you plate it with a little kale salad and some fresh strawberries) is how impressed people are by it when you put it in front of them. You get to use fancy words like "reduction" and "macerated" when you describe how you made it, leaving your dining companion to "ooh" and "ahh" and think sexy thoughts about you (unless, of course, you don't want them to, in which case they'll just think about how smart and competent you are).

This is a great way to use up strawberries that are a day or two away from being too mushy to eat. Just slice 'em up and let them cook down into sweet, syrupy deliciousness. And speaking of which, if you want to skip adding the sugar when you make the sauce, that's just fine. The sauce will be a little bit more tart, but the sweetness from the balsamic and the strawberries will still keep it in the right ballpark.

Finally, if you want use chicken breasts instead of thighs, go right ahead. Personally, I prefer the deeper flavor, higher level of juiciness, and lower price of the leg-thigh cut.

INGREDIENTS extra-virgin olive oil (for the pan) Pantry
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar Pantry
16 ounces of strawberries, rinsed, stems removed, and sliced $4.50
1 tablespoon brown sugar (or white sugar or honey) Pantry
salt and black pepper Pantry
2 whole chicken legs, bones and skin intact $5.50

Total cost of ingredients: $10

DIRECTIONS Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Use the olive oil to lightly grease a baking dish big enough to accommodate 2 chicken legs (an 8-inch one should be fine). Set aside.
In a medium pot, combine the balsamic vinegar, strawberries, brown sugar, a pinch each of salt and pepper and 1/2 cup water.
Heat over medium-high heat until it begins to boil lightly.
Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the strawberries break down and the sauce becomes a syrupy reduction (make sure to watch carefully-it can burn easily).
Remove sauce from heat and set aside.
Use a paper towel to dry the chicken legs completely.
Season the chicken legs on both sides with salt and pepper.
Place the thighs, rounded side up, in the prepared pan and brush all over with the strawberry-balsamic sauce, reserving at least half.
Roast the chicken thighs for 24-25 minutes, brushing with more sauce every 7-8 minutes (at least 3 times). The outside of the chicken should be dark brown and glamorous, and the inside tender and juicy.
Let rest for 5 minutes, then serve.

Serves 2.

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