I’ve done a wee bit of catering and attended culinary school for a time, but I believe cooking several meals a day for the last thirty-five years is what gives me real street-cred in the kitchen. A favorite move from my cooking playbook is stretching one rotisserie chicken over several meals, and the Chef who taught my culinary classes also recommended this tactic, so it’s chef-approved!
It’s true: A rotisserie chicken is one of the best buys for your buck. For $6 you can buy a nice sized, well-seasoned bird and use it to make several meals like a pro.
“But, several meals out of one bird?” you ask.
I say, “You bet! Let me tell you how.”
Let’s Begin. Remove the legs, thighs, and wings. Set them in a large bowl. Remove the rest of the meat from the bones and add to the bowl. Put the bones and skin you removed, in a large stock pot. Add a couple teaspoons of Chicken Base, a cup of rough-chopped carrots, a cup of celery, and a small onion. Chicken Base is available in grocery stores and something I always have in my cupboard. (I add it to sauces, roux, soups, stews, etc., for depth of flavor.) Now cover with water and set to low-medium heat and cover. You will probably use six to eight cups of water. Bring it to a simmer and stir occasionally. Taste to see what your broth needs: salt, more chicken base, pepper, sage, thyme, or garlic. Your likes determine what your stock should taste like. I put turmeric and smoked paprika in mine as it makes it a nice orange color and gives it a flavor I enjoy, but to each his/her own. Simmer the stock for another half hour after you get the taste just right, then remove it from the heat and let cool. Strain the cooled broth through a colander into a container large enough to hold all the liquid. Discard the bones and vegetables. Put the cooled broth in containers and store them in your refrigerator to use throughout the week. If you don’t use it after a few days, put the containers in your freezer for future use.
- Make BBQ chicken using the wings, thighs, and drumsticks. Put on a baking pan, paint with a BBQ sauce of your choice, and heat up in the oven. Serve with whatever sides you like.
- Cube or shred white meat for chicken salad. I use onion, pickles, celery, and mayonnaise. Store the chicken salad in a container to use for lunch the next day. Serve on a bed of lettuce, as a sandwich, or with crackers.
- Make Chicken soup using your chicken broth. There are so many variations; Cream of Chicken, Chicken and Wild Rice, Chicken Noodle, or Chicken and Vegetable are some. Whatever you decide, use your broth and dark meat from the chicken. I enjoy using egg noodles from the freezer section of the store, celery, carrots, and to season the soup, Chicken Flavored Base as needed.
- Casserole ideas: Chicken pot pie, Chicken Tetrazzini, Chicken and spinach lasagna with white sauce, Chicken, broccoli, and rice casserole, white chicken chili, Chicken enchiladas—the ideas are only limited to your imagination. If your recipe requires broth or liquid, use your homemade stock.
- Stir-fry vegetables with chicken meat and stir-fry sauce, served over rice.
- A chef salad with pieces of tender chicken. I like to add apples, grapes, red onion, and sunflower seeds. This is a good lunch that doesn’t require much chicken meat.
It’s hard to beat feeding your family several meals, if not more, depending on how you use the meat, for only $6. Chicken meat keeps well in the refrigerator for five days. Consider using it for lunch one day, then dinner the next to maintain variety. Meat can be expensive, but this is one buy you can feel good about.
Note: I often use chicken stock to sauté vegetables or meat. It helps me use less oil and adds flavor. I use chicken broth in mashed potatoes, as well as in gravy or sauces. Chicken stock can be used to thin many savory recipes.