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For The Week: Meal ideas using rotisserie or roast chickens

Bring Me The News food writer Lindsay Guentzel has top tips for chicken dishes.
Roast chicken

Welcome back to For The Week, my weekly column that comes out every Sunday and focuses on all things food for the seven days ahead.

My name is Lindsay Guentzel and I’m the food writer for Bring Me The News. I also cook on TV. Maybe you’ve seen me on KARE 11 or The Jason Show or Twin Cities Live and thought, hey that name looks familiar! Well, that’s me. Essentially, I produce food content to share on television. It’s what pushed me out of radio – I want my own show on the Food Network someday and I love the challenge of live television.

‘For The Week’ Moves To Thursdays

In the short time For The Week has been around, I realized Sunday isn’t the best day for meal prepping inspiration because most of you have done your shopping for the week already. So I’m planning to move the weekly release to Thursday starting on March 18 (unintentionally, my birthday). That way, you have time to digest everything before you get your weekend shopping done.

And so ... on to chicken

For the last month or so, I’ve been knee-deep in the urban legend of the Engagement Chicken – a roasted chicken so good if you make it for your partner, they will propose marriage. It’s a fun, kitschy story but gave me a crash course in how to make a really good chicken. Read about it here.

I’ve roasted more chickens in the last six weeks than I have my entire life and let me tell you – having ready-to-eat chicken in the fridge can be a total game changer when it comes to making a quick meal. And the great thing? You can easily buy a rotisserie chicken from the store and not lose any sleep over the fact that you didn’t do it yourself. I’m a firm believer that throwing money at the problem is a good thing. And if you’ve been struggling to get into a consistent meal routine, it’s important to make the process as easy as possible for yourself.

This week, I’m going to offer up some delicious meal ideas that use either a roasted or rotisserie chicken; both simple concepts that you can adapt for your own lifestyle or full blown recipes that you can follow step by step.

Roasted Chicken vs. Rotisserie Chicken

So what is the difference between a roasted chicken and a rotisserie chicken? It all comes down to the cooking method. A traditional roasted chicken is cooked in a roasting pan using dry heat in the oven while a rotisserie chicken is cooked by being rotated on a spit near a heat source. Rotisserie chickens tend to get a caramelization on the skin that is hard to replicate in a traditional oven and the rotating spit helps the bird cook more evenly. But big picture, there isn’t a grocery list of differences. Rotisserie chickens are sold in most major grocery stain chains and can provide a high level of convenience in meal prepping and planning.

The Basics Of Roasting A Chicken

The most important thing to remember when handling chicken is having a clean kitchen and clean hands. Food-borne illnesses are no joke so make sure to wash your hands, your utensils, your cutting boards, anything that comes in contact with raw chicken. 

Typically, a chicken is going to take anywhere from 15 to 18 minutes per pound to cook and that’s looking at a temperature range of 350° to 450° in a conventional oven. The great thing about roasting a chicken is that everyone has a recipe online. They’ve done the work for you and if you can follow instructions, you’ll be just fine.

Personally, I like making a juicy and flavorful chicken that can be gussied up during the week for a bunch of different meals. Something that isn’t too wild that it can’t adapt to a recipe. It is always easier to add flavor than try and mask something powerful.

The engagement chicken is actually a great recipe to test out if you’ve never roasted a chicken before because it is very simple. Lemon, salt & pepper. Plus the directions are very simple and easy to follow. I found the lemon juice to be incredibly helpful in keeping the meat nice and juicy and because it isn’t too dramatic, the chicken paired nicely with a bunch of different cuisines and spices during the week.

Find the recipe here

I’m typically only cooking for my boyfriend and myself so one chicken can last us multiple meals during the week. But if you have a larger family, I would recommend planning a roasted chicken for dinner and then roasting two at a time. You’re already making the mess, so add another bird to the equation to use throughout the week.

I let the chicken cool down a bit after roasting so it’s easier to handle and then I break it down over a large cutting board, shredding pieces into a storage container until it is finished. Sometimes, if I’m feeling committed, I’ll use the carcass to make chicken stock but most of the time I give whatever scraps I can to our dog and cat and throw the rest away (note: do not give chicken bones to your pets).

If you are purchasing a rotisserie chicken at the store for your meal prep, break it down before you put it in the fridge. Once a rotisserie chicken has time to set and fully cool in a fridge, it does not break down as easily as it does when it is still warm.

Meal Ideas Using Roasted and Rotisserie Chicken

Just last week, I used my leftover rotisserie chicken in my scratch Fettuccine Alfredo dish. Because the meat was already cooked and ready to go, the entire dish took me well under 30 minutes to put together. And because I didn’t have to put the chicken in until the very end, I could concentrate on making sure the sauce was perfect (it was really good).

I also love having chicken in the fridge during the week because it means I always have a healthy option for lunch. I can easily throw together something that is satisfying without a ton of work.

One of my go-to recipes over the years is a chicken salad made with Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise. I happen to love mayo -- especially in chicken salad -- but it doesn’t fit into my nutrition goal on most days. So I developed a bright, tangy Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad that really hits the spot.

Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad

If you’re looking for a more traditional chicken salad, this Food Network recipe has everything you might be looking for -- dijon mustard, hard-boiled eggs, flaky croissants and lots of mayo.

Rotisserie Chicken Salad Sandwiches

Pre-cooked chicken is great at making Mexican Night a breeze. Whether you are having tacos, whipping up cheesy quesadillas or throwing together a pan of enchiladas, having the chicken made ahead of time cuts out so much work. Plus the bold, spicy flavors are an easy addition to the traditional chicken.

Here are some recipes for inspiration.

Easy Rotisserie Chicken Tacos

Shredded Chicken Tacos

Rotisserie Chicken Tacos

Leftover Chicken Quesadillas

Rotisserie Chicken Enchiladas #1

Rotisserie Chicken Enchiladas #2

I’m not a huge recipe follower. I like to get an idea for a meal and just roll with it. So if you fall into that category, I recommend thinking of meal concepts and cuisines that your family likes and think of how a roasted chicken can fit into that. Mexican, Thai, Italian, Indian. Sandwiches, salads, soups, rice bowls. Sweet, spicy, savory. There are so many ways to transform a really delicious chicken, it really is the perfect addition to your weekly meal prep.

If you have a meal prepping question, I would love to help you tackle it. Shoot me an email at lindsay@bringmethenews.com and please be on the lookout March 18 as For The Week debuts on its new day – Thursday!

Like Lindsay’s work? Follow her recipes, blogs and videos here on Bring Me The News or on her website https://lindsayguentzel.com/. Or follow her on social media @LindsayGuentzel on Twitter and Facebook.

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