Sunday, March 13, 2011

Rotisserie Chicken Leftovers

One of my constant challenges making meals at home is that there are only two of us in my household. I do a lot of shopping at Costco buying things in bulk because it is so much cheaper. I wrote the other day about how I make at least two meals out of every flank steak, and search the fridge for the cheapest (i.e. lightest) package available.

On days when I don't have time to cook from scratch I sometimes pick up a rotisserie chicken from Costco. This works out perfectly with grocery shopping day since I usually don't have the time or energy to cook after shopping and then putting groceries away. It's easy - and inexpensive - to grab a chicken.

I've only roasted my own chicken once, and decided that for $4.99 it actually made more sense time-wise and cost-wise to just buy the pre-cooked chicken. Food doesn't often work this way, but this makes my life a lot easier!

I'll make a salad or some frozen veggies and usually some potatoes to go with the chicken. My husband and I each have a breast and usually indulge in the delicious crispy skin. I know, shame on me.

This leaves me with almost an entire chicken left over! For a family of two, I get down and dirty with the chicken and turn it into at least three more meals.

I do mean down and dirty. Once dinner is done, I pick all the usable meat off the chicken. Typically, this goes into Gladware and straight into the freezer so that I know it won't go bad before I use it. If I'm feeling extra motivated, I'll boil the chicken carcass to make some homemade chicken stock. This can be frozen, also.

One of my post-rotisserie recipes is matzo ball soup, so the broth comes in extra handy. I usually add some low-sodium broth to my own, or just use store bought broth entirely. Broth is inexpensive, and organic broth is readily available at Costco.

To make my matzo ball soup, I bring the broth to a simmer while chopping up carrots, onions, celery, parsley, or whatever else sounds good. I always have carrots and onions on hand, so these are always in my soup. If I have fresh parsley in the garden I'll often use it, otherwise I sometimes just toss in Italian seasoning. I also pull out my shredded chicken, and toss everything into the stock.

I typically make a big stock pot full of soup that can then be frozen for one or two more meals later in the month, but you can make just as much or little as you want. Plan your ingredient amounts accordingly.

Matzo balls are so incredibly easy thanks to the matzo mix found at Safeway. Depending on how big you make the matzo balls, you should get about 9-12 out of each packet. I usually go for 12 since I'm trying to make three meals for the two of us.

Mix a couple of eggs and a quarter cup of vegetable oil with one packet of mix. I put the bowl in the fridge for 5-10 minutes, and then with wet hands form balls the size of walnuts. Drop these into the boiling stock, and then reduce to a simmer and cover. It takes about 20 minutes to cook. If you've never made matzo ball soup before, keep in mind that they double or triple in size. I never have much trouble making 12 from each packet!

I serve with a salad and some crusty croutons or a side of bread. Sometimes my husband makes his famous focaccia bread to go with.

Typically I have enough leftover shredded chicken to make at least one more meal, but I'll save my other ideas for rotisserie chickens for another time. All in all, I get at least four meals out of every chicken - how's that for a great deal!

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