I love to cook. I mean really cook, all Iron-Chef like. But now that multiple sclerosis has gotten in the way of buzz sawing through preparation of a multi-course dinner, I’ve needed to rely more on chef short cuts, especially because a hot kitchen is my kryptonite. Fortunately, with over 20 years of practice at the stove, I’ve gotten decent at repurposing meals, and my all-time favorite dish redone is rotisserie chicken.
You can find the spit roasted chicken at many larger grocery stores, and while it is perfectly tasty served sliced with an ear of corn and a side salad, this precooked bird is far more versatile. Depending on what you’ve decided to make for dinner, take apart the rest of the bird, stripping it of most of its meat. I say most because getting every little bit isn’t worth the extra effort and besides, it better flavors the chicken stock I always make afterward. Since I’m usually cooking for two, I’ll freeze the pulled chicken for a future dish or two. Now for full disclosure, I often strip the bird and make the stock the next day because I’m already a bit gassed from shopping. And, critically, supper still has to make it to the table within my wife’s hunger/starvation window, which at times can be alarmingly narrow.
To help fellow MSers get dinner prepped in a flash, I’ve put together a bunch of easy, basic recipes that use roasted chicken and only five other ingredients (or fewer). Now I don’t provide specific ingredient quantities—these recipes are more of a framework or an inspiration rather than step-by-step instruction. If you see something you like and need more guidance, search for a full-on recipe (I like www.epicurious.com). And I’ve also made it so you can go as pre-prepped as you like. Use shredded cheese instead of a grating from a block, jarred salsa instead of making your own, store-bought hummus instead of cracking open some tahini and a can of chick peas, well, you get the picture.
Since this is just a fraction of the gazillion possibilities out there, don’t be afraid to put your own spin on the revisited rotisserie chicken. It’s hard to screw up. And a few of these can even be modified to be knife-free if your skills in that department are sketchy due to MS or knife phobia. During your culinary explorations, if you discover a gem of a recipe, shoot ‘em my way: email@example.com.
NOTE: Add seasonings to the following recipes as you like, and remember that most rotisserie chicken already has salt. Common tweaks: salt, pepper, oregano, thyme, garlic, curry powder, cayenne pepper, cumin, hot sauce, etc. If you don’t have all the ingredients, leave one or two off, or just substitute. (Another quick aside, I prefer Costco chicken. Unlike your run-of-the-mill grocery stores, they don’t inject any artificial flavorings into their bird, they are a good bit larger, and since they sell so many—70,000 every day—whatever you pick up is bound to be freshly roasted.)
Sandwich: Top toasted bread with chicken, sliced tomatoes, avocado, sliced red onion and mayo.
Wrap: Add chicken to warmed pita with hummus, diced tomatoes, fresh cilantro and chopped cucumber.
Quesadilla: Top flour tortilla with chicken, shredded cheese and chopped green onion, fold in half, cook on stove in butter, then serve with salsa and guacamole.
Taco: Place chicken into taco shell with cheese, lettuce, onion and salsa.
Greek Pasta: Toss chicken with cooked pasta and add kalamata black olives, red onion and feta.
Italian Pasta: Toss chicken with cooked pasta and add mozzarella, tomatoes and basil.
Couscous: Saute onions, red pepper, and garlic, add chicken and chick peas to warm, add cooked couscous (fluff).
Enchiladas: Top corn tortillas, add shredded cheese, minced onion, chicken, another layer of tortillas, then coat with enchilada sauce, serve with sour cream.
White chili: Saute diced onion and jalapeño in oil, add can of white beans (undrained), can of chicken broth, chicken, then top with Monterey jack cheese after heated.
Curry: Saute onion, add plain yogurt, cream, curry powder, chicken and tomatoes to warm, serve atop rice.
Salad: Cube chicken, toss with lettuce, avocado, red onion, blue cheese, and dressing.
Asian salad: Toss chicken with cooked asparagus and Asian dressing made with oil, peanut butter, and vinegar. Optional: top with sesame seeds and sesame oil.
More recipes: chicken noodle soup, chicken pot pie, Thai noodles, chicken posole, potato and chicken salad, Asian chicken wrap, chicken burritos, BBQ chicken sandwich, chicken flautas, and many, many more.
Chicken Stock*: Place chopped onions, carrots, and celery along with chicken carcass into lots of water. Add bay leaf, touch of salt. Optional: add fresh parsley and fresh thyme. Bring to boil, and then simmer for a few hours, stirring occasionally. Strain broth (discard carcass, etc.) and place in refrigerator overnight. Skim off fat layer on top and discard. Done. I often place broth into ice cube trays, freeze them, and then use the cubes as needed.