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The late, brilliant Barbara Kafka once said: “When in doubt, roast a chicken.”
I try my best to live by her advice. After all, there are endless occasions when a roast chicken is welcome, and even more ways to enjoy its leftovers.
And yet. Come hot, sticky, sweaty August, I
sometimes often don’t want to turn on the oven. This is very reasonable but also makes roasting a chicken very hard.
Luckily: Rotisserie chicken is here to save the day. Imagine it wearing a cape! Soaring through the sky! With cheering crowds down below! Just like its roasted counterpart, rotisserie chicken is a weeknight hero.
All you have to do is swing by the supermarket. I always start with the simplest variety (no herbs or spices or such) to keep my dinner options open. From there, the possibilities are endless.
Here are 10 of the easiest ways I transform the store-bought superhero. And not a single one needs an oven or stove.
1. No-Mayo Chicken Salad
I like to borrow inspiration from Kenzi Wilbur, who borrows inspiration from her mother’s potato salad. It’s bold and bright and punchy. Chop the chicken into chunks. Mix with olive oil, whole-grain mustard, cider vinegar, capers, sliced cornichons, diced red onion, and minced tarragon and parsley, all to taste. Serve on thick, soft bread or thin, crunchy crackers.
2. Buffalo-ish Chicken Salad
This one does include mayo. Chop the chicken and toss with mayo, crumbled blue cheese, hot sauce (Frank’s Hot is the way to be), finely diced celery, and grated carrots. You could tuck this into a pita, scoop it up with potato chips, or just go at it with a fork.
3. Literal Chicken Salad
You know, like chicken in a salad! Start with arugula, preferably baby. Add whatever fruit looks too dang good to pass up, like juicy peaches or plump blackberries. Now, some sort of cheese, say salty feta or fresh goat. Dress with lemon juice and so much olive oil.
4. Another chicken salad
This time, Caesar-style. Doctor up some mayo with mashed anchovies, minced garlic, Worcestershire, lemon juice, and all the black pepper. Toss that with some romaine and top with strips of chicken.
5. Any-night tacos
Take your pick of corn or flour tortillas. Smear the center with plain, full-fat Greek yogurt. Shred the chicken—I like to do this by hand but with a couple forks works, too—and add to the tortilla. Top with chopped lettuce, diced onion, and your favorite salsa.
6. Lettuce wraps
Prep a stack of iceberg or butter lettuce cups. Finely chop the chicken, plus some celery and scallions. Mix with soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, and grated ginger, all to taste, plus a little sriracha if that’s your thing. Right before serving, top with lots of crushed, roasted peanuts (don’t worry, those can come from a jar).
7. Almost chicken club
A classic club sandwich includes: turkey or chicken, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and mayo. Since we don’t want to be frying bacon (sorry, bacon), we’ll turn to another crispy, salty option: potato chips. Slice the chicken as thinly as possible and don’t forget: three layers of bread! I like a soft whole-wheat best.
8. Pita pocket
Dollop some Greek yogurt in a bowl. Add grated cucumber, minced garlic, chopped olives, lemon juice, and dried oregano. Smear an unshy amount of this in a fluffy pita pocket. Fill with chopped chicken, hunks of tomato and cucumber, and all the feta in the world.
9. Cold coconut milk soup
Combine equal parts full-fat coconut milk and vegetable broth, then season with fish sauce or rice vinegar (or both!) and sugar to taste. Chill. Ladle into a bowl and top with: shredded chicken; crushed, roasted cashews; fresh mint, basil, and cilantro.
10. Banh mi-style summer rolls
Quick-pickle some grated carrots and daikon: Sprinkle with sugar and salt, then splash with rice vinegar. Let hang out for at least 15 minutes until wilted. Dunk a rice paper wrapper in water for a few seconds. Transfer to a work surface. Line the center with: chicken strips; the pickled veg; cilantro sprigs; pickled jalapeños; and a squiggle of Sriracha-spiked mayo.
How would you turn a rotisserie chicken into dinner tonight? Share your ideas in the comments!
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