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101 Things To Do With Leftover Chicken
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The Big Pack of Chicken
Everyone knows that you can get better deals when you buy in bulk. And that is why I frequently purchase what my grandfather refers to as the big pack of chicken: 6 pounds of boneless chicken breasts or leg quarters. It always prompts the question "Who's going to eat all that?!" and the answer "I am." My other favorite discount chicken purchase is a whole chicken. Again, a lot of food for one or two people. But it never goes to waste. Because I know 101 things to do with my leftover chicken. OK. You got me. I have never really counted. But I bet its close. And by the time you are finished reading this hub, you will have 101 of your own.
Note: If your chicken is already seasoned, fried, or barbequed that's fine. Simply choose ingredient combinations that compliment those flavors.
Yes. Chicken is a perfectly acceptable breakfast food. Ask anyone in the southern US. Or just visit a diner. There is a good chance you will see chicken and waffles on the menu. This is usually chicken tenders or fried chicken paired with Belgian waffles. It used to sound odd to me until I saw it. It looks great, sort of like a breakfast version of chicken and fries.
If you are more adventurous you can try chicken in your omelettes! I have seen a Buffalo Chicken Omellette as the special at my favorite diner. So why not try it at home? And why restrict it ti breakfast. This would be great for lunch or dinner too.
APPETIZERS and LUNCH
These are quick and easy to throw together and most don't even require cooking, aside from the initial chicken that got us started.
The heading really says it all. Just like you would with the turkey after Thanksgiving, make a sandwich. You can go with the classic club: chicken, lettuce, tomato, bacon, mayo, cheese. The sky is the limit. Add some avocado slices, cucumber, peppers. Whatever you have on hand. I also like to change things up by using flavored mayonnaise. This is easy to make. Take some mayonnaise and add something to it! My favorites are curry powder, tandoori seasoning, dill, or brown mustard. Don't like mayonnaise? Try ranch dressing , hummus, or another spread.
Why stop at a cold club when you can make hot sandwiches too?! Everyone knows about hot turkey and roast beef sandwiches. Why are we neglecting the poor chicken?! Slice up some chicken, heat it in a pan with some chicken gravy, and serve it over bread. Tada! A Hot Chicken Sandwich. For us health conscious folks, you might want to include a side of veggies. If you took some of my previous advice, you should have some kicking around in your freezer.
If grilled sandwiches are more your type you can do that too! A simple favorite of mine is chicken, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, and just a touch of barbeque sauce. Just like the cold version, the sky is the limit: tomato sauce and mozzarella, or mushrooms and swiss, or really anything you have kicking around in the back of the fridge! A few tips: you want to keep your layer of chicken fairly thin and use a low/medium heat so that all of the ingredients can warm through without burning your bread. Go easy on the sauces. Too much will make your bread soggy. You can always dip into more!
Speaking of dipping. Try making some chicken dippers.These are so much healthier than chicken nuggets and are less expensive and just as fun. This works best with boneless breasts or tenders. I serve the chicken cold, but I suppose you could heat it up. Cut the chicken into large cubes or strips and serve with a variety of dipping sauces. Salad dressings make great dips (Ranch, Bleu Cheese, Italian, Greek) as do honey and barbeque sauce. Instead of fries, serve carrot sticks. Cucumbers make a great substitute for potato chips. Or what about apple slices and grapes? Mix and match whatever you enjoy.
There are a million recipes for making chicken stock out of a whole chicken. I am just gonna say it: I am too lazy and unorganized for that. But I do love chicken soup. So I settle for semi-homemade varieties. Dice some chicken and you can add it to any canned soup.Toss in some frozen veggies too while you are at it. This adds a lot of flavor and texture. Even better, it cuts down on the amount to sodium per serving. Have you read those cans? It's like eating a bowl of salt?!
I also keep veggie and chicken broth on hand in the cupboard. Low sodium of course. Those of you that make your own broth, more power to you! Go ahead and use it. This is great to make quick chicken soups. Add some diced chicken and whatever assortment of veggies and starches you like. This also makes good use of leftover rice or potatoes. My favorite is chicken broth, diced chicken, rice, and frozen mixed veggies (usually the peas, corn and carrots or zucchini and spinach) topped with a little grated cheese. If you want to spend more than a few minutes on your creation, cook some fun pastas to add to your soup. The wackier the better. Get some bow ties, or tri-color wheels. Have fun with it. If you want to expand your horizons go with an Asian flare. You can buy packets of miso soup at the grocery store. Add some chicken, green onions, snow peas, and even rice or rice noodles.
Take a green salad. Add some chicken. Done! It's as easy as that. Of course that can get a little boring. Perhaps you want to change things up every now and then. Restaurants have turned this into an art. When is the last time you have gone to a restaurant of any kind and you did not see some sort of salad with chicken on the menu. Asian chicken, crispy chicken, harvest chicken, Greek chicken, etc. There is no reason you can't replicate that at home. Take a tossed salad and add barbequed chicken, corn, bell peppers, black beans. Tada! Southwestern chicken salad. Wanna go Greek? Roast chicken, feta, black olives, grape tomatoes, yellow pepper rings. You can use whatever bottled dressings you prefer, or you can make your own dressing in two minutes. Chicken is also a great add in to your favorite pasta salad or antipasto.
You can't talk about leftover chicken without talking about homemade chicken salad. The first time I had this was when my friends dad made it for us and I was hooked. It is easy to make. Dice or shred your chicken, add mayo, garlic powder, black pepper, salt, diced carrots and celery (onion is optional). I will occasionally switch up the veggies with frozen peas and corn. I don't see why you can't branch out and try bell peppers, olives. cherry tomatoes, etc. Again, if you are one of those silly people that don't like mayonnaise, Italian or Greek salad dressing works well too.
Don't Panic! They are easy. I promise! You can buy rice paper in the Asian section of most supermarkets. It is not as hard to use as it looks. You simply soak the sheet in water, add fillings, and wrap. Just like making a burrito. There are even instructions how to wrap them on the package. If you have never made your own spring rolls, try it! They are great for picnics and parties. No one will even know that you are passing on your leftovers! Some ideas for fillings include green onion, rice, soy sauce, Chinese mushrooms, bamboo shoots. I don't necessarily stick to Asian ingredients either. I have used pulled chicken, tomatoes, mushrooms and cheddar.
These ideas are great for dinner. They involve a little cooking, but using leftover chicken really cuts down the cooking time.
This is a great alternative to pulled pork. It works best with chicken on the bone. Simply shred your chicken by pulling it apart add to a skillet with your favorite barbeque sauce and cook for at least ten minutes. This is good on its own with a side of veggies or makes a great sandwich.
This is just like making tacos with ground beef, but use shredded or finely chopped chicken. You can buy taco seasoning at the store. I add a little salsa in as well if it looks dry. Have fun with the fixings: cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, jalapenos, black olives, sour cream, salsa, rice, re-fried beans. Who says you have to keep it strictly Mexican? I have made chicken tacos with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and American cheese. Or what about my chicken, barbeque sauce, and cheddar cheese taco! To explain myself, aside from having odd food habits, I cannot eat wheat. A corn taco shell makes a pretty good alternative to bread in a pinch.
This is the same concept as the tacos. Simply substitute shredded or chopped chicken for the ground beef in your favorite chili recipe. But why stop there? Add some canned or fresh mushrooms, carrots, or peppers. Top with diced tomatoes, green onions, sour cream and cheddar cheese. Those of you that want to be a little naughty go ahead and add some bacon too.
This is great for leftover boneless breasts. Top them with whatever you have handy and pop them in the oven or in a pan on medium/low heat. Remember, you aren't cooking the chicken, you are just heating everything through. Here are a few ideas: Pasta sauce and mozzarella; spinach and feta; mushrooms, tomatoes and cheddar; ham and swiss; peppers, onions, and cheese. Whatever you want to top them with go ahead and load it on, but make sure the toppings are pre-cooked because you will not have it in the oven or pan that long.
The easiest pasta dishes are to simply add shredded or cut-up chicken to your favorite cream or tomato sauces. Why not add some veggies too. This is a great idea if you are using a store bought Alfredo sauce. It will cut down on the fat and salt per serving. Just like the canned soup, how on earth do they get all that in there. And why?! Mushrooms, broccoli, and peas make great add ins to cream sauces. Bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, and carrots are all good in tomato based sauces. Spinach and zucchini work well in either. It's all about what you like. I usually serve this over pene, but why not have some fun with the pasta? Go for bow ties, spirals, wheels, or anything else that looks good. Tri-colored pastas add a whole other dimension to dishes with cream sauces.
Are we there yet?
Have you been counting? Have I hit 101? Let's see. Take the number of dishes, the number of possible ingredient combinations... whatever. I am lousy at math. Perhaps I should add some desserts. Do you suppse chicken would make a good sundae topping? No. Me either. So I will wrap things up. I know I have left some ideas out. But I think you have enough to get started. And once you do get started, don't stay in your comfort zone. Make some wacky soups. And try those spring rolls!