Food & Drink

How to turn a rotisserie chicken into 2 taco dinners, each feeding 6 people

A supermarket rotisserie chicken can yield enough meat to make two taco dinners. (Abel Uribe/Chicago Tribune/TNS)
A supermarket rotisserie chicken can yield enough meat to make two taco dinners. (Abel Uribe/Chicago Tribune/TNS)
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I don’t need to spend much time examining why you should pick up a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store, do I? Obviously, it’s faster than roasting a chicken at home. It’s also a shockingly good deal. For what’s often cheaper than a whole raw chicken in the meat department, you can nab one that’s spent an hour spinning lazily in front of a wall of flames, basting in chicken fat and working on its gorgeously golden brown exterior. (As for why it’s so cheap, Time suggests it’s used as a loss leader for grocery stores to tempt you to buy more expensive items.)

While you could lop off a thigh and serve it with a simple side dish, why not use all that rotisserie chicken meat as a jumping off point for a more ambitious dinner?

I’m guessing you’ll never run out of inspiration. A quick Google of the term indicates that there might be too many options. BuzzFeed has 24 “easy meals” for you to peruse, while Epicurious goes with 31. Not to be outdone, Taste of Home claims to have 133! That’s not to mention all the cookbooks dedicated to the subject. “The Great Rotisserie Chicken Cookbook” by Eric Akis has a 100 ways to help you out, as does “100 Creative Ways to Use Rotisserie Chicken in Everyday Meals” by Trish Rosenquist.

Which is another way of saying that essentially any recipe calling for cooked chicken is fair game. Initially, I was blindsided by the abundance. When you can take almost any direction possible, how do you make a choice?

As at most times in my life, I began to daydream of tacos.

You could add some rotisserie chicken meat to a warm tortilla and top with a salsa of your choice, but let’s dig a little deeper, shall we? Because you’re starting with cooked meat, you can incorporate the salsas in a more dramatic way and still have time to spare.

A roasted tomatillo and avocado salsa, which is creamy, spicy and acidic all in one go, is an ideal partner for crispy chicken taquitos (aka flautas or tacos dorados). All you need to do is roll up some chicken meat in a corn tortilla and then pan-fry it until golden on both sides.

Or you could whip together a dark red chipotle and tomato salsa. Here the chicken meat is mixed with the salsa, so each bite is savory and spicy, with a subtle smokiness from the chipotle chiles. All this filling needs is a sprinkle of fresh cilantro and cotija cheese (queso fresco also works), and maybe some avocado.

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Rotisserie chickens vary wildly in size, but you can expect to pull off about 4 cups of meat from a medium-size one, which is enough for you to try both of the recipes here. Removing the meat is one of those tasks easiest to do with your hands. Oh, don’t forget you can also save the bones to make stock.

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