I don’t need to spend much time examining why you should pick up a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store, do I? Obviously, it’s faster than roasting a chicken at home. It’s also a shockingly good deal. For what’s often cheaper than a whole raw chicken in the meat department, you can nab one that’s spent an hour spinning lazily in front of a wall of flames, basting in chicken fat and working on its gorgeously golden brown exterior. (As for why it’s so cheap, Time suggests it’s used as a loss leader for grocery stores to tempt you to buy more expensive items.)
While you could lop off a thigh and serve it with a simple side dish, why not use all that rotisserie chicken meat as a jumping off point for a more ambitious dinner?
I’m guessing you’ll never run out of inspiration. A quick Google of the term indicates that there might be too many options. BuzzFeed has 24 “easy meals” for you to peruse, while Epicurious goes with 31. Not to be outdone, Taste of Home claims to have 133! That’s not to mention all the cookbooks dedicated to the subject. “The Great Rotisserie Chicken Cookbook” by Eric Akis has a 100 ways to help you out, as does “100 Creative Ways to Use Rotisserie Chicken in Everyday Meals” by Trish Rosenquist.
Which is another way of saying that essentially any recipe calling for cooked chicken is fair game. Initially, I was blindsided by the abundance. When you can take almost any direction possible, how do you make a choice?
As at most times in my life, I began to daydream of tacos.
You could add some rotisserie chicken meat to a warm tortilla and top with a salsa of your choice, but let’s dig a little deeper, shall we? Because you’re starting with cooked meat, you can incorporate the salsas in a more dramatic way and still have time to spare.
A roasted tomatillo and avocado salsa, which is creamy, spicy and acidic all in one go, is an ideal partner for crispy chicken taquitos (aka flautas or tacos dorados). All you need to do is roll up some chicken meat in a corn tortilla and then pan-fry it until golden on both sides.
Or you could whip together a dark red chipotle and tomato salsa. Here the chicken meat is mixed with the salsa, so each bite is savory and spicy, with a subtle smokiness from the chipotle chiles. All this filling needs is a sprinkle of fresh cilantro and cotija cheese (queso fresco also works), and maybe some avocado.
Rotisserie chickens vary wildly in size, but you can expect to pull off about 4 cups of meat from a medium-size one, which is enough for you to try both of the recipes here. Removing the meat is one of those tasks easiest to do with your hands. Oh, don’t forget you can also save the bones to make stock.
Chicken taquitos with tomatillo avocado salsa
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 16-20 minutes
Makes: 6 servings
You will have plenty of salsa left over for other meals.
1 pound tomatillos, husked, rinsed
3 to 4 serrano chiles, stemmed
4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 medium avocado, halved, pit removed and skin discarded
Handful fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon kosher salt
12 corn tortillas
2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken meat
Canola oil, about 2 cups
4 radishes, diced
2 limes, quartered
Place tomatillos and serranos on one side of a rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Set garlic on the other half. Fold foil over to cover the garlic. Arrange oven rack so it’s in the highest position, turn the broiler on high and place pan on the top rack. Cook until tomatillos and serranos start to blacken on top, about 6 minutes. Flip over tomatillos and serranos. Cook until tomatillos and serranos blacken on the other side, another 6 minutes. Remove from oven; set aside to cool.
When cool enough to handle, peel the garlic. Transfer tomatillos, serranos and garlic to a blender. Add the avocado, cilantro and salt. Blend until smooth. Set aside. Makes: 2 cups
Heat a griddle or skillet over medium heat. Heat a tortilla until soft and pliant, about 15 seconds a side. Transfer tortilla to a tortilla warmer, or cover with a clean dish towel. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
Place about 2 tablespoons shredded chicken in a warm tortilla; season chicken with salt and pepper, if needed. Roll tortilla tightly, and place seam side down on a clean plate. Repeat with remaining tortillas. (If you’re worried about the tortillas staying rolled up, you can secure each with a toothpick, and remove them after cooking.)
Pour oil to 1/2 inch deep into a large cast iron skillet or Dutch oven. Heat over medium until oil shimmers, about 350 degrees if you test it with a thermometer. Place as many of the rolled tortillas seam side down as will fit in one layer; do not crowd them. Cook until golden brown on the bottom, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip and cook until golden brown on the other side, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer taquitos to a paper towel-lined plate, propping up one end so the oil drains from the center. Repeat with remaining rolled tortillas.
Serve the taquitos with the tomatillo avocado salsa, diced radishes and lime wedges.
Nutrition information per serving: 385 calories, 27 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 31 mg cholesterol, 28 g carbohydrates, 3 g sugar, 13 g protein, 464 mg sodium, 5 g fiber
Chipotle chicken tacos
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Makes: 6 servings
1/2 onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves
2 chipotle chiles in adobo
1 can (14 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken meat
12 corn tortillas, warmed
1 cup grated cotija cheese
1 handful cilantro, chopped
Sliced avocado, optional
Add onion, garlic, chipotles, tomatoes and salt to a blender; process until smooth. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. When oil shimmers, add the chipotle salsa. Cook until it reduces slightly and isn’t watery, about 5 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium-low; add the chicken. Stir until chicken is evenly coated in the salsa and the meat is warm. Turn off heat.
Serve chicken in warm tortillas, topped with a sprinkling of cotija cheese and cilantro, plus slices of avocado, if you like.
Note: Chipotle chiles come in a can, and a recipe never seems to use all of them. To freeze the leftovers for another use, spread them in a single layer on a wax paper-lined plate or baking sheet. Freeze until solid. Then transfer the chiles to a zip-close bag; freeze until needed.
Nutrition information per serving: 287 calories, 13 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 51 mg cholesterol, 28 g carbohydrates, 3 g sugar, 17 g protein, 891 mg sodium, 4 g fiber