Every time I purchase a rotisserie chicken at Tops, I’m reminded of its usefulness in the kitchen. This dinner-in-minutes is full of nutrition, incredibly versatile and is the meal that keeps on giving, in the form of stock or bone broth. I may just have bird on the brain–Thanksgiving is mere days away—or perhaps I’m just looking forward to the chicken salad I’ll make from some shredded meat I threw in the freezer last night.
The humble rotisserie chicken provides the protein component of a meal, is generally low in calories and easy to come by; for a few bucks at the grocery store you can have a hot meal ‘fresh from the oven’ shortly after you pull into your driveway. A four-ounce portion will meet the recommended 25-30 grams of protein per meal (for adults). Be sure to skip the skin (or most of it) and try to choose a variety that’s lower in sodium. As store-bought rotisserie chickens tend to be high in salt, be sure to serve low-sodium sides, such as plain rice, a green salad or fresh fruit.
The beauty of the rotisserie chicken is also its versatility. You can eat it now—hot—or later, cold. Or, later warmed up. Or, later as a whole new meal. Or…I think you get my point. My favorite uses for leftover meat are homemade chicken salads or tossed into a soup, such as chicken noodle. We generally get two meals for two adults out of one chicken, especially when our 16-month-old decides she’s not into meat that day…sigh.
But a chicken’s versatility doesn’t stop there; instead of throwing the bones away, turn them into stock. I wrote about making bone broth about two years ago, lauding the health benefits of the long-simmering liquid. For basically nothing, you can make your own chicken stock (simmered for about four hours) or bone broth (done in an Instant Pot in two hours). I typically throw the carcass of each rotisserie chicken in a bag to freeze, and then combine 4-5 of them to make a large pot of stock or bone broth. Then, I freeze the stock in quart-sized mason jars in my basement freezer. Pro tip: Make sure to save a little stock or broth to freeze in smaller sizes, such as a pint jar or even a muffin tin, for times when you need smaller amounts of broth for a recipe.
And so, I’ve resolved to pick up a rotisserie chicken once a week to help get easy, nutritious meals on the table in mere minutes. Last month, I wrote about ‘power bowls’ (a protein source, a grain and veggies, topped with a sauce of choice) and lo and behold—haven’t they just saved my bacon every week since? You bet. My husband can’t resist a hot rotisserie chicken, so at least we’ll have one ‘winner, winner, chicken dinner’ per week….