Sometimes I just don't feel like turning on the oven.
When I do, I head to the supermarket to find one of those domed, plastic boats containing this week's column star: the rotisserie chicken.
Seriously, over the years I've brought home every kind of chicken imaginable: organic, free-range, boneless, skinless, whole, fresh, frozen … you name it. Until two years ago, though, the only kind of chicken I'd never come home with were those golden birds riding the chicken Ferris wheel.
Fortunately, common sense caught up with me. Viva la revelation. Viva la rotisserie chicken, a take-home miracle.
Properly prepared, spit-roasted chicken is delicious. As it slowly turns over, under or next to its heat source, it continuously bastes itself with its own juices. The ideal result is juicy, flavorful meat and crispy brown skin.
A typical chicken will yield about four cups of cooked meat, which will feed two adults, with some leftovers.
On a cutting board, I like to carve the chicken with a sharp knife by first cutting close to the center bone on both sides to remove the breasts. Then I remove the legs and thighs and shred the meat. You can cool and wrap the breasts in foil and refrigerate them until you're ready to reheat.
Serve the breasts with roasted potatoes and something green or on top of a bed of pasta.
Shredded chicken also works well for barbecue sandwiches: Thin your favorite barbecue sauce with chicken broth, then combine with chicken and heat through. Serve on a warm bun. Garnish with tomatoes and avocado slices.
I've also tasted these birds cold, which make divine leftovers in a sandwich.
Perfect for summertime meals, tostadas are a great way to use rotisserie chicken.
I adapted a Rick Bayless recipe for an all-purpose, quick tostada from his "Mexican Everyday" cookbook. They are made with semi-homemade refried beans, which are delicious. I really liked how he cooks them with some texture, rather than the traditional thin paste by leaving about one-third of the beans somewhat in tact. And of course, you can get as creative as you want with the toppings!
Next time you are near your grocery deli, pick up a rotisserie chicken and use it throughout the week. It'll be well worth the $6 to $7.
Quick chicken tostada
8 tostadas (crispy whole corn tortillas)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, olive oil,
Fresh pork lard or bacon drippings
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely
chopped or crushed
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans
12 ounces shredded rotisserie chicken meat
1 ripe avocado, sliced
2 cups thinly sliced romaine lettuce
1 cup salsa or diced tomatoes
3/4 cup Mexican crumbling cheese
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Arrange tostadas on a baking sheet in a single layer and keep warm in oven until ready to serve. Heat the oil, lard or bacon drippings in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and stir for about a minute, then add the beans, without draining them. Mash until you have a coarse puree, and then cook, stirring regularly until the beans are thickened just enough to hold their shape in a spoon, about 10 minutes. Taste and season with salt if needed. Turn the heat to the lowest setting.
Spread tostadas with beans, then top with lettuce, chicken, avocado slices, cheese, tomatoes and cilantro and serve immediately.