Why to buy a prepared rotisserie chicken, and what to do with it when you get it home.
Okey, I’m not really going to have you make anything called Rotisserie Chicken Supreme. But I am going to let you in on a not-at-all secret. You want an easy and healthy basically-homemade dinner? Tonight? Grab a rotisserie chicken on the way home. Or purchase one whenever you go to the grocery store, for that matter, and then refrigerate it for a couple days and use it then. Either way, pre-cooked rotisserie chicken from the deli counter (it comes hot and is the oven-swathed food that is smelling up the whole store) is a generally healthy, economical, and easy-to-use choice and I highly recommend this cheat over most others (as in stopping by the Taco Bell).
First off, I would appreciate it if you would purchase a high-quality rotisserie chicken. Whole Foods (which is where I shop and why I keep mentioning it… it does not mean it is your best or only option) offers theirs without additives (and especially injected chemical solutions) for only around $7, which in my experience is the same as anywhere else (unless you are talking a big box store, like Costco, in which case you pay for the membership and then get a $5 bird with some slightly undesirable (but not the worst) additives). So why not stop by Whole Foods on the way home next time? If not, just scan the ingredients and make your decision.
Now, what to do with the bird now? There is always the option of plopping it down on the table as is with a simple salad and a simple side (like steamed rice or a pre-purchased potato or noodle side). This is a very viable option. In the wintertime I roast a chicken myself every week and we use it for two dinners in a row–the first one being the chicken itself with an herby brown rice and a vegetable salad. But in my opinion, roasting chickens is largely a cold-weather endeavor, unless you make use of the grocer’s chicken instead, in which case you can keep the kitchen cool and turn the economical meat into things that appeal to your body in consideration of the temperature soar. OR, you can also just slice up the chicken and serve it on a bed of greens and your favorite salad veggies with a chicken-friendly dressing-of-choice and a purchased whole-grain bread. Couldn’t be easier for a summer dinner.
Here are a couple of my own, touch-more-involved, suggestions.
CHICKEN SALAD (for use on greens or in a sandwich with a seedy bread, lettuce, tomato, and red onion)
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup canola or olive oil mayonnaise with 1/2 teaspoon curry powder and ground black pepper. I like to cut my mayo with sour cream or yogurt, usually half-and-half (so fill 3/4 cup measure half-way with sour cream before adding the mayo, for example).
- De-skin and de-fat and then dice 3/4 cups rotisserie chicken. Throw in the bowl.
- Add into the bowl 1 stalk diced celery, 4 sliced scallions, 1 cored and diced green apple, 1/2 cup raisins, 1/2 cup diced green grapes or plums, and 1/2 cup raw pecans, chopped. Mix well.
I have not yet decided what the best chicken taco is yet, since I have only used one in the 300 Best Taco Recipes (see other blog entries). However, all you need to do, really, is de-skin and de-fat the chicken, shred it, and leave as is or toss with dressing of choice (anything from enchilada sauce to teriyaki). Drop this into a hard or soft wheat or corn tortilla and top with appropriate veggies, cheese, and sauce, and call it a day. The obvious would be to use taco flavoring on the meat, and serve in corn taco shells with chopped tomatoes, onions, black olives, shredded lettuce, grated cheese-of-choice, sour cream, and hot sauce. Easy peasy.
GRILLED CHICKEN BBQ AND CHEESE
You may argue that grilled cheese is not a health food. Well, mostly I agree with you. But when you carefully choose your ingredients, it can be full of nutrition and fiber even as it is a high-fat food. Limit your grilled cheese intake, eat one at a time, and enjoy with some roughage. In the following case, I think a bowl of fresh tomato soup with a dollop of pimiento cheese on top would pair nicely with a green salad and the sandwich, even for a special occasion. And by the way, my kids love this as much as we do.
- Butter 8 slices quality sourdough bread (less ingredients, more whole grains) with quality butter (no hormones, antibiotics, and conscientious), on the “outside” only. Set aside.
- Dice or pull 2 cups of rotisserie chicken, minus the skin and extra fat. Mix with 1/4 cup quality BBQ sauce (mind the ingredients).
- Assemble sandwiches by topping 4 of the bread slices (non-buttered side) with equal amounts of the chicken mixture, 1 slice of mozzarella cheese each, and a couple of sandwich-sized dill pickle slices each. Cover with other 4 slices of bread and press down (minding the butter).
- Preheat a grill pan or griddle to medium heat. Add sandwiches and cook on one side until brown and crispy. Turn carefully and repeat.