It’s hard to find a kitchen aroma better than one that comes from a roasting chicken.
There is no shortage of whole chickens to purchase at local farmers markets, meat markets and grocery stores. The process of cooking one is not that difficult. Crank up the oven, shove some cut lemon and herbs in the cavity, season well with salt and pepper and a drizzle of oil or a pat of butter smeared over the skin, and let it roast.
Only now does the dilemma begin to unfold.
“Let it roast” means at least an hour of cooking time. Not a big deal on a weekend afternoon, but it can be difficult to squeeze in for dinner after a day packed with work and after-school activities.
Enter the ’90s craze that has lived on for decades — the rotisserie chicken. Boston Market, formerly Boston Chicken, popularized whole-chicken dinners as convenience meals in their drive-through restaurants. According to the Wall Street Journal, regarding the new craze, “Families liked the convenience of a meal that was seen as cheaper and healthier than fast food.”
Costco entered the rotisserie chicken market in 1994 and has sold more and more each year, selling 91 million $4.99 chickens in 2018, reportedly 14% of the rotisserie chicken market.
There is no shortage of rotisserie chickens to be found.
Stonehorse Market in Utica Square is known for its rotisserie chicken, among other popular take-out items.
“We order kosher chickens,” said Alicia Slocum, the market’s manager. “Buying kosher means that we know the ways the chickens are raised and butchered, and kosher birds have darker, juicier meat.”
Before their spin on the rotisserie, Stonehorse Market’s chickens are seasoned with an in-house rub made with rosemary, thyme, garlic and other seasonings.
“We sell out every day,” said Slocum. Stonehorse’s birds are $5 per pound and range from 3 to 3½ pounds.
Grabbing a rotisserie chicken at the local market makes it easier to get dinner on the table. While a whole-roasted chicken is excellent served as is, there are myriad of ways to shred, chop, simmer and sauté the chicken, transforming it into chili, soup, salad, pasta, enchiladas, and other winner-winner chicken dinners.
Here are several easy meals utilizing this supermarket shortcutas well as a recipe for chicken stock for using up any leftover bones and meat (which you should always save in a bag in the freezer, specifically for this purpose!).
As a bonus, check out the oven roasted chicken recipe — the prep time is only a matter of minutes, then pop it in the oven and come back in an hour. The results are definitely worth the time.
Easy Chicken Chili
Makes 3 quarts
Use shredded rotisserie chicken as a timesaver. For fuller flavor, don’t drain the chiles or beans.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional and to taste
4 cups shredded cooked chicken
4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade (see recipe)
2 4.5-ounce cans chopped green chiles
3 16-ounce cans navy beans
Sour cream, shredded cheese, and sliced green onions, for serving
1. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium high heat.
2. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until onion is tender, about 5 minutes.
3. Stir in cumin, oregano, salt, pepper and cayenne. Add chicken, stock, chiles, and two cans of beans.
4. Coarsely mash remaining can of beans and stir into chicken mixture. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. Serve with desired toppings.
Italian Chicken Pasta Salad
Serves 6 to 8
This is the perfect potluck salad, but it might not make it out of the kitchen. Feel free to vary the vegetables, herbs and cheese, depending on what you have on hand.
1 pound dried elbow macaroni
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup cubed rotisserie chicken
1 cup diced English cucumber (about ⅓ cucumber)
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
½ cup chopped pitted Kalamata or other black olives
1 4-ounce jar chopped pimientos
½ cup ¼-inch diced hard salami (about 4 ounces)
¼ cup diced red onion
¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated, or crumbled feta cheese
⅓ cup red wine vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook until al dente, according to the package directions. Drain in a colander, rinse with cold water and shake until very dry. Transfer the pasta to a large mixing bowl, drizzle 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over it and toss well to coat.
2. Add the chicken, cucumber, tomatoes, olives, peppers, salami, onions and parsley. Toss well to combine.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar and remaining ½ cup olive oil; pour it over the salad and toss well. Season with salt and pepper. For best flavor, let the salad stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving.
— Adapted from FoodNetwork.com
Shredded Chicken Salad with Ginger Dressing
Serves 4 to 6
This riff on the popular ITR salad from Tulsa’s In the Raw sushi restaurant is a breeze to whip up with a small assortment of pantry ingredients.
1 (3-ounce) package of ramen noodles, crumbled (save the seasoning package for another use)
½ cup sliced almonds
1 large bag shredded lettuce
2 cups shredded chicken breast, from a rotisserie chicken
½ cup sliced green onions, white and light green parts only
1 cup of your favorite carrot-ginger salad dressing, or other Asian-style dressing
Wonton strips, for garnish
1. Heat oven to 375°. Spread the crumbled ramen noodles and sliced almonds out on a baking sheet, tossing to combine. Bake until the almonds and noodles are slightly toasted and golden, about 5 minutes. Give the mixture a good stir, then return it to the oven and toast for an additional 3 minutes. Keep a very close eye on the mixture so that it does not burn. Remove and set aside.
2. Add lettuce, almond mixture, chicken and green onions to a large bowl, tossing to combine. Drizzle with dressing and toss to combine. Serve immediately, garnished with wonton strips.
Salsa Verde Chicken Enchiladas
This easy dinner is made from only four ingredients, perfect for a busy weeknight.
1 16-ounce jar salsa verde
3 cups cooked, shredded chicken
2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese
8 medium (soft taco size) flour tortillas
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray. Spoon a thin layer of salsa verde into the bottom of the dish.
2. Combine chicken, 1 cup cheese and 1 cup salsa verde in a bowl. Spoon about ⅓ cup mixture down the middle of a tortilla. Roll up the tortilla around the mixture and place seam side down in prepared baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas and chicken mixture.
3. Top with remaining salsa and 1 cup shredded cheese. Bake uncovered until bubbling, 20 to 30 minutes.
— Adapted from KevinandAmanda.com
4 large eggs, room temperature
4 ounces bacon (about 4 slices)
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
8 cups arugula or coarsely torn romaine or butter lettuce
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
2 large beefsteak and/or heirloom tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 ripe avocado, quartered
1. Bring 8 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan. Gently lower eggs into water and boil 7 minutes for medium-set yolks. Immediately transfer eggs to a medium bowl of ice water and chill until cold, about 5 minutes. Peel eggs under running water; set aside.
2. Place bacon in a medium skillet and set over medium heat. Cook, turning occasionally, until brown and crisp, 8–10 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain, then break apart into pieces.
3. Add vinegar, mustard, sugar, and 1 tablespoon water to rendered fat in skillet and whisk until smooth and emulsified. Gradually stream in oil, whisking constantly until a thick dressing forms; season with salt and pepper.
4. Arrange lettuce on a large platter and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle about half of warm dressing over. Cut eggs in half and arrange over lettuce along with shredded chicken, tomato wedges, avocado, and bacon. Season salad with salt and pepper and drizzle remaining dressing over.
— Adapted from Bon Appetit
Chicken, Spinach and Artichoke Lasagna
Serves 6 to 8
If you think spinach-artichoke dip is the best way to start a party, then this will become a go-to dinner for nights when you want something super-comforting, but also need to sneak in some greens, too.
1 pound no-boil lasagna noodles
3 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups milk (preferably whole or 2%)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
½ pound frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess liquid
1 (15-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
2 (15-ounce) containers part-skim ricotta cheese
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute, then add flour and cook, stirring or whisking, 1 minute more. Whisk in milk and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook, whisking constantly, until thickened, 2 to 4 minutes. Add Parmesan cheese and stir until creamy, then add chicken, spinach, and artichokes and stir until combined.
2. Spread a thin layer of chicken mixture in a large baking dish and top with a layer of overlapping noodles. Spread a layer of ricotta cheese over the noodles, add a layer of chicken mixture, and sprinkle with a layer of mozzarella cheese. Repeat for three layers total, ending with mozzarella cheese.
3. Tent with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove foil and bake until browned and bubbly, about 10 minutes more. Let cool for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.
— Adapted from Delish.com
Lemony Chicken and Rice Soup
Serves 4 to 6
This lemony and slightly creamy twist on classic chicken and rice soup is simple to make – for a heartier dish, stir in a few handfuls of thinly sliced kale or spinach before serving.
6 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade (see recipe)
1 cup white long-grain rice
4 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
2 large eggs, beaten
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh dill
Place chicken stock and 2 cups water in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer.
Stir in rice, cover and cook until rice is tender, 12 to 15 minutes.
Stir in chicken and stir until heated through. Remove pan from the heat and cover.
In a small bowl whisk the eggs and lemon juice until frothy. Using a ladle, remove about 1 cup of hot broth from the soup and slowly whisk into the egg mixture. Slowly stir the egg mixture back into the soup. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately, sprinkled with dill.
Easy Rotisserie Chicken Stock
Makes 2 quarts
Keep a large ziptop bag in the freezer to add to as you use up rotisserie chickens or other chicken bones, onion tops or carrot peels, then making (or doubling or tripling) this recipe is a breeze.
* Adapted from Rachel Ray magazine
Bones and skin from 1 rotisserie chicken
1 head garlic, halved
2 onions, quartered
3 carrots, broken in half
4 stalks celery, broken in half
Aromatics like ginger, fresh parsley, or peppercorns (optional)
In a large pot, bring all the ingredients and 8 quarts of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer the stock, uncovered, for 3 hours. Skim off any foam that rises to the top and add water as needed to maintain the same level of liquid in the pot.
Cover the pot and simmer until a rich stock forms, about 3 hours more. Let cool slightly. Using a fine-mesh strainer, strain the stock into a large bowl; season with salt. Let cool. Transfer to an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months.