Nothing saves time like a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket. I can’t count how many times it’s made a good dinner possible on a busy weeknight.
As a matter of fact, I buy them enough that I have a system in place for what to do as soon as I get the chicken home.
Here they are:
- Save the juice. Reserve the liquid at the bottom of the plastic dish your chicken came in. It’s packed with flavor from the meat, a little bit of fat from the skin, and it’s a surefire way to turbo-charge any sauce you might create. Or, you can just add it to the chicken stock you might make later (see #4).
- Break it down. While it’s still good and hot, I break it down into parts (it's easier while warm). You can do this in any order you want, but here’s how I do it:
- Take the breast off the bone. Try to keep as much skin intact as you can. It just looks better.
- Remove the thighs.
- Take off drumsticks and wings.
- Remove the meat. Take the remaining carcass and pull off any meat from it. You’ll be surprised how much there is. Reserve that meat for, well, whatever you want. I make soup or chicken salad for lunch the next day. As a matter of fact, I go ahead and pick the meat off the thighs, drumsticks, and wings, too. I reserve the bones with carcass.
- Make stock. While I’m not the sort that always makes my own stock, I at least make some whenever I buy one of these chickens. It’s really so simple, there’s no reason not. Typically, the bones from one chicken make enough stock for 1 pot of homemade chicken soup. That’s a pretty good ratio as far as I’m concerned. What’s so great about this is that all the bones and cartilage really make a thicker, more “restaurant-style” stock. You can really taste the difference when you use it.
Here’s how I make the chicken stock:
- Put the bones in a stockpot.
- Add 1 chopped carrot, about half an onion, roughly chopped, and 1 chopped celery stalk.
- Find seasonings you want: whole peppercorns (or a few turns of a peppergrinder), 1 bay leaf, a smashed garlic clove, whatever sounds good.
- Add water. I try to make sure I’ve got about 2 quarts of water to start. Just make sure everything in the pot is covered in water.
- Bring it to a low boil, then simmer for about 2 hours, partially covered.
Do all this, and you get dinner the first night, lunch the next day, and soup whenever you feel like it. Pretty good for one rotisserie chicken.