Do not fear it. It can be your savior.
I love to cook, I mean, does that even need to be said? But sometimes being a single mom with a full-time job, several extra-curricular activities, and a house to try to keep from falling apart is just plain old exhausting. Grand menu ideas whirl around in my head, and then when it comes time to make them happen... my energy depletion sometimes wins. In comes the rotisserie chicken, the most wonderful, flexible, long-lasting convenience food in the world... and all this for under $10, folks!
These are my simple, sure-fire steps to making the most of your chicken.
Step 1: Cut it up, and eat it straight with a couple of stupidly simple to prepare sides. In this case, I just boiled some corn and whipped up a pack of Central Market's quick-cook 5 Grains mix and then added some diced pears on the side. Voila, perfect kid-friendly meal.
Step 2: Remove any remaining meat from the bones with a knife or your fingers, tearing or cutting into small pieces as you go, and place in a container to store in the fridge.
Step 3: Place the bones and any leftover skin and fat in a freezer-safe bag... you're going to be using this to make homemade chicken stock later. Place it in the freezer until you are ready to make the stock.
Step 4: Use the rest of the meat from chicken in meals throughout the week. The possibilities are endless here, but here's some of what I did (based largely on the big pack of corn tortillas, several ears of corn, and some zucchini I also had in my fridge... an alternate title for this post might be "How to use the Same 4 Ingredients in Several Meals"):
- Pack some up plain and put in the kids' lunchboxes.
- Make quesadillas. This is another kid-friendly food and only takes a few minutes to prepare. I used queso Oaxaca, but you can use any kind of cheese you like as long as it melts well. Monterrey Jack is a good substitute. Add in chopped vegetables or beans if you like. I served this with some of the salsa verde from my last food swap and some cantaloupe from the farmer's market.
- Make tacos! Soft tacos with flour tortillas are easiest, obviously, but I needed to use up my corn tortillas too and crispy tacos sounded really good (and were). These were a mix of the leftover chicken, corn, zucchini, cheese, and more of the salsa verde.
- Make King Ranch Chicken.
Some other ideas might be: chicken salad, soups, salads, nachos, stir-frys, etc., etc., etc.
Step 5: Make the stock. This is one of those it's so easy it hardly requires a recipe things, but for anyone who has never made homemade stock before, here's what you do:
Homemade Chicken Stock
- leftover chicken carcass (including skin and fat if you saved that too)
- leftover vegetable scraps (save these in a freezer-safe bag as well)
- Throw the chicken carcass in a large stock pot.
- Surround it with vegetable scraps, variety will give you a more well-rounded flavor. I like to try to include a bit of onion, peppers, and/or tomatoes whenever I can, but don't sweat it if you don't have these. You can add peppercorns or other herbs if you like, but I generally like to keep mine as neutral as possible and then add in the spices/flavorings when I use it for cooking.
- Fill the pot with water. Bring it to a boil, and then let it simmer for about 2 hours.
- Let it cool, then scoop out the solids and strain it over a bowl.
- Transfer it to jars, leaving at least an 1 1/2" of room at the top, and the freeze it until you are ready to use it. Tip: depending on how you typically use the stock, you may want to freeze some in ice cube trays and then transfer to a bag after wards so you have small quantities available too. I usually do both cubes and jars.