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Friday, April 8, 2011

Save Time with Store-Cooked Rotisserie Chicken

I was a latecomer to this game. 

It was only about two years ago that I discovered that purchasing a fully-cooked rotisserie chicken from the supermarket could simplify my life.

Why spend an entire afternoon prepping, basting and roasting a chicken when you can let someone else do it for you?

That leaves me extra time for other endeavors.

Like hanging out in my backyard practicing my photography skills.
Still blurry, still uninspiring.  But if you look closely at the two o'clock position, you'll see a little honeybee.
If we get the 80-degree heatwave the weathermen are predicting for next week, will these daffodils have a shortened lifespan due to heat exhaustion?
Gus thinks they'll be goners.

Okay, I'm back.

Back to the chicken.

Locally, the best deals can be found at B.J.'s, their rotisserie chickens are $4.99 everyday; or if you find yourself at Roche Bros. on a Thursday their "Five Buck Cluck" chickens are $5 every Thursday.

I purchased two chickens this week.  One for now, one for later.
Prep them ahead of time, at your convenience.  Just remove the skin and pull the meat off (and the wishbone, for fun)........
........and chop it.  Takes minimal time.

Throw it into a zip-lock bag and keep it in your fridge until you're ready to use it.

Comes in handy this time of the year when spring sports and activities leave us scrambling to throw a quick meal together.

Chicken Salad Sandwiches

  •  crusty bread loaf (like ciabatta), about 2 feet long
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 crushed clove of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary (or 1 tablespoon fresh)
  • salt
Chicken Salad:
  • meat from 1 rotisserie chicken, chopped (about 3 cups)
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1 chopped scallion (green part only)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard (prepared, not powdered spice)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder

Pour the olive oil (about 1 or 2 tablespoons) into a small bowl.  Crush the garlic into it and stir with a fork.  Let it sit while you prep the salad.  This will allow the flavors to blend and the oil will get nice and garlicky.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Cut the white part off the scallions.  I only use the green parts in this salad, 1. because the taste is milder than the white parts, 2. they're crunchy and 3. the color looks great.

But if you're really into onions, go ahead and use the white part.
Chop the scallion.  You should have about 1/3 cup.
Next, prep your celery.  One very large rib should be enough, or two small ones.
Slice it lengthwise into skinny strips, about 1/4 inch wide....
And then slice across the strips, to get about 3/4 cup of diced celery.

Next, prepare the tarragon (if you're using fresh tarragon).  Strip the leaves from a few sprigs....just hold from the top with one hand and slide your fingers down with the other and the leaves will come off easily.
Finely chop the tarragon.  Smells like black jellybeans or licorice.  I don't like black jellybeans.  But I love cooking with tarragon.

If you don't have fresh tarragon, dried is fine.  Just be sure to adjust the amount.  Dried herbs are much stronger than fresh ones.
Time to prep your bread.  Grab the little bowl with the garlicky oil.....
.....and lightly brush it onto the bread.

You are not going to use it all.  I had you prepare more than you needed because it would have been hard to work with the small amount that you actually use......"crush 1/8 clove of garlic into 1 teaspoon of olive oil"........sounds like a recipe for Lilliputians.

Okay, now I'm laughing.  I can't stop thinking about a Lilliputian recipe book.
I just felt the need to show you how much oil and garlic is left after I finished brushing the bread. 

Not that I didn't think you would believe me that you don't have to use all the garlicky oil. 

Very lightly sprinkle the bread with salt. 

Sprinkle the rosemary onto the bread as well.  You will notice that my bread does not have any rosemary on it.  After removing every spice from my spice cabinet twice (after I removed them once and put them all back, I stood there in disbelief that I had no rosemary and had to remove them all again to double check), I realized that I had no rosemary.

How can it be that I had a seldom-used herb like fresh tarragon on hand (and, as I discovered when I emptied my spice cabinet, three bottles of dried tarragon), but no rosemary?

I can't wait until the weather is warm enough for me to plant my herb garden. 

Heat the bread in your preheated 350-degree oven for 5 minutes.

If you do not want to go to the trouble of oiling and heating your bread, you could always buy a loaf of rosemary focaccia instead.

But this crunchy-crusty-on-the-outside and warm-and-soft-on-the-inside bread is so worth the minimal prep.
While the bread is heating, mix together all of your salad ingredients--the ingredients we just prepped, plus the mayo, mustard, onion powder and garlic powder.

Or, to save time, you could have mixed up your salad ahead of time.

Okay, I couldn't stop thinking about the Lilliputians.  I just googled "Lilliputian Recipes" and the first four hits are for Lilliputian BLT's.  I clicked on one and started to read it but when I saw that you need to cut your bread into 1-inch squares I quickly exited.  I would hate to spend all that time making teeny-tiny BLT's and then have to watch in horror as the recipients of my time-consuming food preparation tossed 'em back two at a time.

Remove your bread from the oven. 

Cut it into four rolls, each about 6-ish inches long.

Stuff it with the chicken salad.  There will be enough chicken salad to generously fill 4 sandwiches.

This is not a gloppy, mayo-laden chicken salad.  There is just enough mayo in it to hold it all together nicely.
Grapes are a nice side to serve with this sandwich, the flavors go together well. 

If time permits, sometimes I halve or quarter the grapes and add them into the salad instead.

Season the sandwich with salt and pepper, to taste.  Enjoy!!

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