A modern twist on the promise of a chicken in every pot, the rotisserie has revolutionized how time-pressed Americans get dinner on the table.
Consumers have been crowing about succulent, juicy rotisserie chickens since the late ’80s. Today home cooks have become so reliant on the convenience that you’d be hard-pressed to find a supermarket that doesn’t offer a 5 o’clock show starring the whirly birds.
Americans eat an estimated 700 million rotisserie chickens a year. About 500 million of the pre-cooked birds are sold through supermarkets and warehouse clubs; the rest are sold through food service operations including rotisserie-style restaurant chains such as Boston Market, says Bill Roenigk, vice president for the National Chicken Council, a trade organization based in Washington, D.C.
Over the years, rotisserie chickens have become a shortcut to creating any number of dishes that call for pre-cooked chicken as an ingredient. Entire cookbooks are devoted to the subject, and a grand-prize winner of the National Chicken Council cook-off won with a recipe for shredded rotisserie chicken “crab cakes.”
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The Star’s Sun-Dried Tomato Rotisserie Chicken Stew uses a rotisserie chicken as its base to create a Southwestern-style stew that comes together in minutes.
Nutritionally, the stew contains two types of tomatoes — whole and sun-dried — both a great source of vitamin C and the antioxidant lycopene. The sun-dried tomatoes are soaked in red wine, which adds still more antioxidants.
The dish is garnished with avocado, which was once shunned because of its high fat content but has more recently been shown to have a positive effect on blood cholesterol levels. A sprinkling of pumpkin seeds adds zinc, antioxidants, vitamin E, iron, phosphorus and fiber.
The biggest drawback to using store-bought rotisserie chicken in recipes? It is frequently marinated before cooking in high-sodium solutions to keep it moist.
Cooking tip: In Mexican cooking, roasted pumpkin seeds are known as pepitas. To toast pumpkin seeds, place seeds on a baking sheet in a 300-degree oven and roast until golden, shaking the pan so they do not burn. Do not toast for more than 5 minutes or the seeds become bitter.
rotisserie chicken stew
Makes 8 servings
2/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not in oil)
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 (14.5-ounce) cans no-salt-added whole tomatoes, chopped
1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chilies
4 cups 99 percent fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
2 cups frozen corn
1 store-bought rotisserie chicken, skin and bones removed and meat cut into small pieces
1 avocado, pitted and sliced
2 tablespoons unsalted shelled pumpkin seeds, toasted
1/2 cup crushed baked tortilla chips
Using kitchen scissors, cut dried tomatoes into fourths. Combine dried tomatoes and red wine and let stand at least 5 minutes to soften.
Place canned tomatoes, green chilies and red wine-tomato mixture in a 4- to 6-quart Dutch oven. Heat 3 to 5 minutes, then add chicken broth, chili powder and cumin; bring to a boil. Add corn and chicken, and cook 7 to 8 minutes. Place in warmed bowls and top with avocado, pumpkin seeds and crushed tortilla chips.
Per serving: 323 calories (24 percent from fat), 8 grams total fat (2 grams saturated), 102 milligrams cholesterol, 23 grams carbohydrates, 40 grams protein, 528 milligrams sodium, 3 grams dietary fiber.
Recipes developed for The Star by professional home economists Kathryn Moore and Roxanne Wyss.