What’s Shabbat without chicken? What’s any day without chicken?
With meat and fish prices soaring, chicken is still your best bet for nutritious and economical meals. But it’s easy to get stuck in a chicken rut. Here are some ways to shake up your routine and add new culinary steps to your chicken dance. If your regular Shabbat meal is roasted chicken, roast an extra — or buy another rotisserie chicken. You can never have too much,
because there are so many ways to use the leftovers. I prefer to either shred or chop cooked chicken on a diagonal for more tenderness. And never throw away the frame of any cooked chicken. Freeze it for a rainy/snowy day to make chicken soup. Store-bought rotisserie chickens make the best chicken soup, as the herbs season your soup beautifully. And cooking time is much shorter.
Here are 10 ways to dance with chickens — seven ways to incorporate leftover cooked chicken and three from-scratch recipes.
1. CHICKEN SLOPPY JOES: Sauté some finely chopped onion, bell pepper and garlic until translucent. Add finely chopped cooked chicken to warm. Stir in equal parts of marinara and barbecue sauce, and spoon onto soft buns to serve.
2. THAI PASTA WITH PEANUT SAUCE: Combine about 2 tablespoons peanut butter, 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce, one teaspoon sugar, 2 teaspoons chopped garlic and a dash of hot sauce in a saucepan. Add enough coconut milk to thin. Warm on the stove, then toss with cooked pasta noodles, shredded cooked chicken, chopped roasted peanuts and chopped fresh cilantro or parsley.
3. CHOPPED SALAD: Combine chopped cooked chicken, chopped apple, chopped red onion, raisins and almonds in a bowl. Toss with a pareve salad dressing. I like the Asian ones.
4. CHICKEN LETTUCE CUPS: Chop chicken and toss in a little cornstarch. (2 tablespoons for each whole chicken). Sauté chopped garlic and ginger over medium heat until golden brown and nutty aroma. Add chopped shiitake mushrooms and chopped water chestnuts. Drizzle with soy sauce, rice vinegar and a touch of sugar, scraping the bottom of pan. Add the chicken and cook until sauce thickens and chicken is done. Drizzle over a little more soy sauce, vinegar and sesame oil to taste. Serve in lettuce cups topped with chopped roasted peanuts and green onion.
5. CHICKEN COUSCOUS: To cooked couscous, add diced olives, diced red onion, sautéed garbanzo beans, chopped cooked chicken, raisins, diced dried apricots and diced dates. Flavor with fresh chopped cilantro or flat leaf parsley, ground cinnamon, cloves, coriander and squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
6. CHICKEN TACOS: Try the new stand-up-straight taco shells, one packet of low-salt taco seasoning and about 1 cup shredded cooked chicken. In a small saucepan, add about one half the packet of seasoning, some water and the chicken. Simmer for about five minutes, stirring until almost all liquid is dissolved and chicken gets all the flavors. Place lettuce on bottom of taco shell, then chopped tomato, chopped onion (optional), chicken and sliced avocado and end with some good salsa.
7. CHICKEN TAQUITOS: Roll shredded seasoned taco chicken in small tortillas and then deep fry. Serve with great salsa.
Ilene Spector is a local freelance writer.