Monday, September 14, 2009

- Everything but the Cluck: Rotisserie chicken

There’s an old expression that you can cook every part of a pig, except the oink. Well, one of the reasons I don’t begrudge the food store six dollars for a good rotisserie chicken is that I use everything but the cluck. After Friday Night Supper comes Saturday lunch, and while I have been known to warm up the bread and chicken as a perfectly respectable lunch, I tend to get more positive feedback when I make chicken salad. Fresh herbs are key, so Don and I headed out the other day to pick up chives, parsley, basil, and rosemary at the local feed and seed.

Once stripped of the usable meat, the remaining chicken bones, skin, and whatever drippings lurk in the bottom of the plastic shell are dispatched to a stock pot. A minimalist, I do not add anything but water to cover the remains of the chicken, bring the pot to a boil, and then reduce it to a simmer for a couple of hours. The result is liquid gold, aka Rotisserie Chicken Stock. But a caution is in order: if you want a good basic stock, it is best to avoid rotisserie chickens flavored with lemon pepper, barbecue sauce, etc. Strained and frozen, the stock can be kept for another day, another recipe.

Saturday Chicken Salad

Chunks of leftover rotisserie chicken
Finely diced celery
Finely diced cucumber … I’m partial to the seedless English variety
Toasted almonds or pine nuts
Chopped herbs … parsley, chives, and/or rosemary work well
Chopped olives … kalamata or green olives in brine
Finely diced shallots or thinly sliced scallions
Dash of Montreal Steak seasoning

Yes, yes … I know there are no amounts, but I don’t know how much chicken you have leftover. This is where you have to channel your inner chef … cut some stuff up, throw it together, taste it and adjust. It's also what I call the cook’s privilege: getting a taste beforehand, not to mention the applause afterward.

Serve on bread if you must, but I prefer good multi-grain crackers such as Fresh Market Lavasch or Kashi TLC Stoneground 7-Grain.