What do you do with leftover roast chicken?
October 26, 2009 9:37 AM   Subscribe

Roasting a chicken? I'm sold! Now what?

I roasted a 6.5 pound chicken (smallest one at the grocery store, really?) and served it to my adoring guests. Now I have more than half leftover (including skin and bones). What to do with the rest?

My first thoughts are chicken soup, chicken and dumplings, and chicken pot pie. While all wildly delicious, they are all sort of similar, and I'm thinking I'd like to do the Sunday chicken dinner thing more often but with varied leftovers. What do you do with leftover roasted chicken? Extra points for things that can be frozen in an individual portion and reheated for at work for lunch.
posted by teragram to Food & Drink (30 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
You can't use the skin (but I can't imagine using the skin would be that bad), but cashew chicken salad sometimes really hits the spot.
posted by ignignokt at 9:40 AM on October 26, 2009

I don't know about making soup with already cooked chicken, but I've done it with turkey to good success. My favorite leftover chicken recipe is simple chicken salad (just add mayo, and don't listen to any foolishness about celery!). Pot pie sounds good, too.
posted by Mngo at 9:41 AM on October 26, 2009

Didn't preview to see ignignokt's answer, so my celery comment was NOT a dig at that recipe (which sounds great--I'll just leave out the celery...)
posted by Mngo at 9:42 AM on October 26, 2009

chicken burritos/tacos! burritos can be frozen and reheated as necessary.

make stock from the carcass and then freeze in ice cube trays. pop out some stock cubes for quick sauces.
posted by kerning at 9:43 AM on October 26, 2009

This is a fantastic leftovers recipe that works as well with chicken.
posted by fire&wings at 9:43 AM on October 26, 2009

Skin and bones makes stock. Stock can be reduced and then frozen in ice cube trays.

Thai-style chicken noodle soup is good. You can't exactly make and reheat, but if you have instant noodles you can assemble the base, the chicken and the noodles at work and microwave into submission.

Chicken curry.
posted by emilyw at 9:44 AM on October 26, 2009

We covet leftover roasted chicken so we can make Chicken Caesar Salad later in the week! There are a gazillion recipes online for it. A very nice lunch, especially if you bring some garlic bread along. I store it like so: Use a tallish container (like a take-out soup container) and put the dressing in the bottom, chicken next, and ripped romaine on top. Leave a little wiggle room so that when you're ready to eat it, you can just shake the container to blend all the dressing/ingredients. Add croutons then, or eat with garlic bread. Soooo good.
posted by iconomy at 9:47 AM on October 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you have any leftover rice from take away, you can make chicken fried rice.

Add oil to a pan
Add garlic to hot oil for just a few seconds before adding the rice in
Press down the rice and mix it around so it gets that good garlic oil
Add a scrambled egg and mix
Add frozen peas/corn/carrots
Add chicken

It reheats really nicely if you put a dash of water in before you nuke it for a minute or 2.
posted by spec80 at 9:47 AM on October 26, 2009

Roast chicken almost invariably becomes sandwich material in our house. The day after I've cooked a chicken, I'm usually not in the mood to cook a huge meal.

Put it between a couple slices of bread, with avacado, mustard cheese and tomato. Grill it on both sides while pressed underneath a pot lid with a 10lb dumbbell on it. Let cool. Put in mouth.

The bones get stored up until we've got enough to fill a 6-gallon pot, then turned into stock. Good chicken stock is probably the single most precious ingredient in our arsenal.
posted by paanta at 9:49 AM on October 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

This is a recipe for Turkey Skin Cracklings but I bet it would be mighty tasty using chicken skin too. Part of a Thanksgiving leftover challenge for David Chang in the latest Food & Wine magazine.

To crisp turkey skin for these cracklings, a version of chicharrones (fried pork skin), David Chang cooks it between baking sheets. It’s an outstanding garnish and snack.

Skin from about 1/4 of a roast turkey

Preheat the oven to 375° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the turkey skin on the parchment and cover with another sheet of parchment and another baking sheet. Set a heavy ovenproof pot on top. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the skin is crisp and golden. Let cool slightly, then break into pieces.
posted by spec80 at 9:53 AM on October 26, 2009

*pulls up chair and sits down*

-- Make your own homemade ramen noodle soup. You can get packs of just the ramen noodles at Asian markets, and some supermarkets even sell packages of just the noodles. A lot of these noodles come in little nests; if you can't find them, the nests of angelhair pasta also work.

To make this, heat up about two cups of chicken broth, and then add about a half-cup to a cup of cooked chicken meat and a cup or two of whatever vegetable matter you want -- a handful of frozen vegetables, a chopped carrot or two, some shredded bok choy, whatever you want. Let that all simmer in the broth while you cook the nest of noodles in a separate pot. When the noodles are done -- this usually only takes a couple minutes -- drain the noodles, put them into a bowl, and dump the broth, chicken, and vegetables over it.

-- Making your own lo mein from scratch is also butt-simple. For each serving, you need about a quarter to a half-cup of cooked chicken bits. Toss them with a little soy sauce, and a little oyster sauce. Cook a quarter pound of noodles -- either Chinese egg noodles or even just spaghetti -- and set aside. Again, pick whatever kind of vegetables you want to use, and shred/jullienne everything - try to get about two cups of leafy vegetables, and a half cup of firm vegetables, per serving. Chop up an onion or a couple garlic cloves, heat up a wok real good, drizzle in some oil and cook the onion or garlic. Throw in the firm vegetables and stir fry them, add a splash of soy sauce and dump in the leafy vegetables, stir fry them, then add another splash of soy sauce and dump in the cooked chicken and the noodles. Add a couple blobs of oyster sauce and stir fry the whole mess until heated through. Voila.

-- If you follow the directions above but you swap out the egg noodles for rice noodles and the oyster sauce for peanut sauce, halve the vegetables, and scramble an egg in the wok after you do the onion but before you do the vegetables, you have something that can pass for pad thai.

-- Rice-with-stuff-on-it is a quick lunch dish in Japan. Cooked and reheated chicken can easily be some of that "stuff."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:56 AM on October 26, 2009 [2 favorites]

This is not exactly fine cuisine, but this Slow Cooker Taco Soup is my favorite thing ever to make with leftover chicken. Total comfort food. I halve the taco mix and ranch dressing mix to cut down on the considerable sodium.

I also like these Roast Chicken Chimichangas. I've made them according to the recipe, but it's also very flexible and I mess around with it a lot.

I always make stock out of the carcass. I place freezer bags in a 2 cup pyrex measuring cup and ladle soup into the bags until they are full to 2 cups. Seal them up and lay them on a cookie sheet in the freezer, then store flat or standing.
posted by peep at 9:56 AM on October 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Homemade stock is lightyears above anything you can buy in a can or tetrapak and is incredibly easy to make. I loosely follow the Joy of Cooking's process, and you will need:

-1 chicken carcass. Carve as much of the meat off as you can, but all bones and the skin are fair game for the stock.
-1 onion, quartered. Don't even bother peeling it.
-1-2 carrots, roughly chopped.
-1-2 celery stalks, roughly chopped.
-1 bouquet garni. If you're feeling lazy, you can use a mixture of dried parlsey, oregano, and marjoram in a tea ball. Sometimes I include thyme.
-2-3 bay leaves.

Get a big pot, add your chicken remains, and fill with cold water. Put the pot on the range and as it's getting up to temperature you can chop the vegetables and throw everything in as they're ready. Bring everything to a simmer and keep it there for 2-3 hours. Skim the muck off the top occasionally (a small tea strainer works perfectly for this). It's done when the liquid tastes good, basically. It should have a strong chicken flavor.

Remove everything from the liquid and throw it out - bones, vegetables, and the herbs (this is where the tea ball helps). If you have a big sieve and another large pot this is pretty easy, but I end up picking everything out with tongs. Put your stock into some containers and throw it in the freezer.

Some notes:
-You can freeze your chicken carcass if you're not ready to make stock. It'll keep more or less indefinitely.
-Go nuts with the herbs and spices and find something that you really like; it's not exactly rocket science.
-Don't add salt to this! Wait until you're going to do something with the stock (like make soup) to add salt.
-I don't generally do this, but a lot of people will make a demi-glace from the stock. Basically, remove all the solids and boil down the liquid to concentrate it. Then you can freeze it in ice cube trays and drop the cubes into whatever you're cooking.
-If you're going to make soup from the stock - even if you're making it right away - I would still throw out all the vegetables you used to make the stock and then add new ones for the soup. The old veggies will have had all their flavor removed to make the stock and the long cooking time will have turned them mushy.
posted by backseatpilot at 10:01 AM on October 26, 2009 [4 favorites]

You can shred the chicken into a big pile, then add bbq sauce to it (homemade or store-bought) and then have bbq chicken sandwiches.

You can also shred the chicken and mix it up with taco spices and some cut up onions and jalapeno peppers (heat it all together on low so that the flavors incorporate) and voila: chicken tacos/chicken burritos/etc.
posted by sickinthehead at 10:04 AM on October 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

I've only made this with chicken I've sauteed for the purpose, but the recipe does just call for "shredded cooked chicken":
Sesame Chicken Salad.
posted by needs more cowbell at 10:19 AM on October 26, 2009

I make chicken enchiladas all the time using this recipe.

We also toss leftover chicken with mixed greens, goat cheese, dried cranberries, walnuts and homemade vinaigrette.
posted by Kimberly at 10:25 AM on October 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Chicken tinga (mexican-style pulled chicken) and spanish rice

separate the meat from the skin, tendons, and bones. simmer the skin & bones about an hour (and giblets if you've got 'em) to make a stock.

skim the fat off the stock and put it in a 3-quart (-ish) pot, also adding

half a medium onion (diced)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
2 tbsp chili powder
4 tbsp ground cumin
1 bay leaf
dash of cinnamon

fry over medium heat, stirring often, until the onions start to soften, then add

the chicken meat
all its juices/congealed fat/jelly/etc
1 can or bottle of beer (PBR is the lower boundary of quality, $2 per bottle is the upper limit)
1/2 teaspoon salt (more later if it needs)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tsb Franks' red hot
(optional) some kind of chipotle product if you like that sort of thing
(optional) 1 teaspoon bacon grease if you have any lying around

bring to a simmer and let the liquid cook down, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, strain the stock into some sort of measurable container (yogurt containers/those clear plastic take-out buckets are retardedly useful - the little ones are 2 cups and the big ones are 4 cups). Round this out with water to match how much rice you'll use (equal volumes dry rice and water), and put into a pot. add:

enough salt to make the liquid as salty as a good soup
2 tsb cooking oil (olive, corn, canola, or vegetable)
1/2 cup diced tomato (canned or fresh)
half a medium onion (diced)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
2 tbsp chili powder
4 tbsp ground cumin
1 bay leaf
dash of cinnamon
3 tsb Frank's redhot
2 tsb ketchup (don't tell anybody)

cook like normal rice.

Serve on warm tortillas with freshly chopped cilantro, lime wedges, and a can of Goya black beans.

it's so damn good. it got me rich one time in Ohio
posted by Jon_Evil at 10:45 AM on October 26, 2009 [3 favorites]

Thanks everyone! My eyes are now open to the magical possibilities inside a leftover roasted chicken. I don't typically cook meat all that often, but I think roast chicken is going to be very much part of the rotation, because of these good ideas. Keep them coming!
posted by teragram at 10:46 AM on October 26, 2009

If you're feeling adventurous go to your local Asia store and browse through the spice mixes (Asian Home Gourmet, for instance, is a brand that rarely disappoints). Many of these mixes need you to add cooked or roast chicken, so it's an easy way to totally transform leftovers into an exotic new dish.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 10:47 AM on October 26, 2009

This article from Chow tells you how to make a week's worth of lunches out of a roast chicken made on Sunday.
posted by crLLC at 11:23 AM on October 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

I cooked a chicken the other day and used the leftovers to make white chili with some cannelini beans. The recipe I used is behind a pay wall at Cook's Illustrated, but there are a ton of similar recipes out there.
posted by TedW at 11:31 AM on October 26, 2009

I make this recipe every two weeks - chicken rubbed with lemon and garlic, with potatoes (and carrots, and most recently brussels sprouts) underneath, where they soak up all the lovely drippings. We have a breast and leg for dinner, a leftover leg for me for lunch (I had that today!) and one leftover breast plus assorted white meat for cooking with the rest of the day.

Tonight, we're making Thai Chicken Pizza which will use about half the meat. The leftover meat is also quite good in enchiladas, chicken salad, or sandwiches (the best is thickly-sliced bread meat, with avocado).

I save my carcasses in a large freezer bag until I have 2 or three and then make stock. I freeze 4 cups in yogurt containers and use that in soup, and the rest in a couple of ice cube trays and add a couple to the water each time I make rice.

Ever since I started roasting chickens on the regular, we hardly buy chicken breasts - a whole chicken is about the price of two breasts from the grocery store, and having stock always on hand will change the way you cook.
posted by Gortuk at 12:09 PM on October 26, 2009

Definitely save the skin and bones for stock.

One thing I do is save my veggie scraps in a freezer bag in the freezer for stock time. So, whenever I cook, I just put all the washed yet unusable veggie bits into it - things like onion skins, leek greens, carrot tops, tomato cores, etc. If you cook with vegetables even a little bit, you'll have a nice bag of scraps in no time. Then, when you get chicken (or turkey) bones and skin, cook those with the veggie scraps and presto: stock.
posted by spinifex23 at 12:40 PM on October 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Green curry chicken.
posted by transporter accident amy at 1:14 PM on October 26, 2009

You can put leftover roast chicken in anything. In addition to the above mentioned examples, I do the following.

Chicken alfredo: Add chicken, steam asparagus, and dump alfredo sauce over top. Serve over pasta.
Chicken and eggplant: Saute eggplant, onions, garlic. Add chicken, dump in can of tomatoes, stock/wine, and season. Serve over pasta.
Chicken primavera: saute garlic/onion, fresh veg in small pieces (eg carrot, zucchini) in olive oil. Add chicken, heat, season. Serve over pasta.
Chicken quesadilla: fry tortilla with cheese, chicken, and something else (black beans, sauted peppers, surprisingly cabbage also works)
Stir fries: add chicken at the end of cooking and heat through quickly before adding sauce
posted by crazycanuck at 10:14 PM on October 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Try out this recipe video for Kerala Roast Chicken from South India !!
Language is unfamiliar though. Only visual is useful.

posted by cdkodi at 12:39 AM on October 27, 2009

I use mine to make a chicken and ham lasagne. I pour about half a jar of a tomato-based pasta sauce on leftover shredded chicken and place in a bowl to combine for a few hours. Then I layer the chicken, slices of ham, and ricotta cheese between sheets of lasagne, and cover the top with bechamel sauce. O it's tasty.
posted by chronic sublime at 1:56 AM on October 27, 2009

I would make chipotle chilaquiles, or chicken tortilla soup.

If the weather was warmer, I would make a chicken salad with cabbage, shredded carrots, and onion. Top with a dressing made of olive oil, balsamic or red wine vinegar, salt, and a few chopped up chipotle peppers. mix together and put into a corn tortilla, top with parmesan cheese and avocado.
posted by missanissa at 2:59 AM on October 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you're planning on doing this regularly, definitely make Freeze it an ice cube tray and add some when you cook anything. I usually either just have the leftovers or make chicken salad, enchiladas, or tortilla soup.
posted by xammerboy at 2:53 PM on October 27, 2009

I don't have time this weekend, but next weekend I am DEFINITELY roasting another chicken, I can't wait! Saving scraps/carcasses in the freezer isn't practical for me, since I have roommates and would rather use my 25% of the freezer for food. But if I get a different freezer situation, I will take that advice. Thanks for the answers everyone, this has been really helpful.
posted by teragram at 1:13 PM on November 6, 2009

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