Rotisserie chicken, how I love you! How else can you feed a family of 5 for under $10? Even pizza costs more than that, and you have to wait for it to be delivered. I can buy a whole delicious cooked chicken for $5-7, add heat and eat mashed potatoes for another $3 and a bag of salad for $2 and have dinner ready in 5 minutes. Granted, this is a lazy ass dinner but sometimes you just want to eat and don’t have the energy. Plus, you could really do worse than this nutritionally. Finally, everyone in my family will eat it. One chicken is often good for 2 meals, because the carcass has enough chicken on it to make chicken soup, or chicken and pasta, etc. It’s also perfectly acceptable to buy the chicken as an ingredient for any recipe that starts with needing some cooked chicken before you can get going.
I once pinned a website on Pinterest for “52 ways to use a rotisserie chicken” and then they only had one recipe for chicken soup. What a rip-off! Here are my three favorite ways to use a rotisserie chicken other than just eating it.
1. Chicken soup. Who didn’t see that one coming? But it is the easiest thing in the world to make and it’s a light, healthy meal that can be adapted to your family’s tastes. You boil the carcass in water and chicken broth if you have it. Throw in the more tired looking vegetables in your vegetable bin. Boil for about 30 minutes (this part has some flexibility) and drain into a colander over another pot. When it’s cool enough to handle, pick out the bones, gristle, skin and old vegetables and put the cooked chicken into the pot with the broth. Add chopped vegetables, whatever you have. Some grocery stores sell pre-chopped soup starter: carrots, onions, and celery. This is fantastic if you have it. You can add in frozen corn or peas, and a starch at the end such as pasta or diced potatoes if you like. Season it with thyme or tarragon, salt and pepper. If you’re pressed for time, pick the chicken off the cold carcass and add it to a pot of store-bought chicken broth with the chopped vegetables and seasonings. It won’t have as much flavor, but will get dinner on the table about 45 minutes quicker. Your choice.
2. Chicken and orzo. Orzo is a quick-cooking rice-shaped pasta. Cook the orzo. While it’s cooking, shred the chicken into your serving bowl. Add chopped green onions, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, and feta cheese. You can also add halved grape tomatoes if you want, or just substitute them for the sun-dried tomatoes. I use the sun-dried tomatoes in oil, but if you use the dried kind, you just have to soak them in a little bowl of boiling water for a few minutes to soften. Add the hot drained pasta on top of this and toss.
3. Chicken pot pie. This is from my friend Elisa, who isn’t a doctor, but has 7 kids without driver’s licenses so she knows some stuff. Turn on the oven to 350F. Take your frozen pie crust out of the freezer. Chop your cooked rotisserie chicken meat into a bowl. You’ll need about one small chicken for each pie. Sprinkle with a little Adobo seasoning. (She cooks 2 large chicken breasts on a baking sheet in the oven sprinkled with Adobo for 45 minutes while she goes to pick someone up. This is fine if you are home early enough.) Add in 1 can of VegAll, drained. If you have any cooked vegetables left over in your fridge, this is a good place to put them. You can also add that quarter of a bag of frozen vegetables in your freezer drawer. I warm up the frozen or uncooked vegetables in a little olive oil if I’m using them and then add them to the bowl. Stir all together with a can of cream of vegetable soup, a splash of milk, and some thyme, salt and pepper. Elisa likes cream of asparagus, and I do too, but I’ll use cream of celery or cream of mushroom if I can’t find it. Turn this filling into a thawed pie crust and place the other crust on top. Cut 4 vents in the top. If you want, you can brush it with a little beaten egg and crimp a strip of aluminum foil around the edge to make the pie look pretty and keep the edge from getting too brown, but I never do. Bake for about 45 minutes on a baking sheet. This takes longer to describe than it does to make it.
If you have any other great ways to use a rotisserie chicken, I’d love to hear them!