Repurposing: Roast Chicken

Bri DeRosa (Red, Round or Green)

Bri DeRosa (Red, Round or Green) › I like to think of myself as a young, cool, urban fringe locavore, but the reality ...

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Once or twice a month, I roast two whole chickens on a Sunday afternoon. When people find this out, they generally ask one of two things: “Do you have a large family?” or “Good God, WHY?”

No, I don’t have a large family, and despite the fact that my 3-year-old son eats like a linebacker and his 6-year-old brother will happily devour even the BONES of the chicken, those two chickens are not destined for one meal.

As to the WHY…

It’s quite a bit cheaper to cook a lot of bone-in chicken than it is to buy an equal amount of “lunch” meats or boneless chicken parts.

It’s also quite a bit cheaper, and healthier, to use the bones from all those chickens to make slow-cooker stock than it is to buy that watered-down pablum labeled “Chicken broth” at the grocery store.

If I have a whole mess of already cooked chicken in the refrigerator, I don’t have to think about what my kids are getting in their lunchboxes for at least a few days, because I can repurpose the chicken in literally minutes to make any number of great lunches.

Here’s how:

Chicken and Ravioli Salad. Toss some cooked and cooled cheese ravioli with lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, and fresh herbs (basil is my favorite here). Add a handful of baby spinach or halved grape tomatoes and a good helping of your cooked chicken.

Fruit and Nut Chicken Salad. No mayo, no fuss, and totally customizable – chop some of the cooked chicken, mix in a bowl with yogurt, honey, and Dijon mustard, and add whatever fruits and nuts you have on hand. We like chopped cashews and apple, or you could use raisins and pecans, blueberries and almonds…you get the idea. Omit the nuts if there’s an allergy issue, or use toasted pumpkin seeds instead.

Cheddar Barbecue Chicken Wrap. Shred some of the cooked chicken and mix with your favorite barbecue sauce (we make our own). Melt sharp cheddar cheese over the top and roll the whole thing up in a whole-wheat tortilla or stuff into a whole-wheat pita.

Chicken Summer Roll. Take a minute to julienne some red bell peppers, cucumbers, and carrots. Tuck them inside a rice paper wrapper with shredded cooked chicken and fresh basil or mint.

“Pizza Chicken.” By far one of my kids’ favorite lunches, “pizza chicken” just means throwing big chunks of the cooked chicken into a pot of marinara sauce, throwing the heated chicken and sauce into a thermos, and adding mozzarella or provolone so it melts before lunchtime.

There are about, oh, a hundred other quick meals that can be manufactured from leftover chicken – and by the way, even though I’m talking about lunchboxes here, there’s no reason your repurposed chicken feasts can’t become tomorrow night’s dinner.

What are your favorite ways to use up roasted chicken?

Photo Credit: Craig McCord