You may think the title of this post is gimmicky or an overstatement, but I promise you it is true. Putting a $5 rotisserie chicken in my grocery cart each week has made an enormous impact on my home-cooking. Let me explain…
The first benefit is having an easy meal the day I go grocery shopping. It’s been awhile since we talked about it, but I’m still following these basic guidelines to simplify weekly meals. Grocery shopping with kids is no joke. I see the people with their earbuds on and the compact carts. That is not me. I am maneuvering the extra-long cart with kid seats, filled with at least two sometimes three children. They are wiggling at best and whining at worst. But we make it through, every single week. After unloading and putting away a week’s worth of groceries, I am very, very glad to have that rotisserie chicken to heat in the oven for dinner.
Of course, you could roast your own chicken. Someday I would like to try it, like Ina, but even a Bon Appetit senior food editor agrees that your time could be better spent elsewhere. (And I love his tip to pick the best bird – choose the heaviest one, aka the juiciest.) I pair mine with crispy kale, a loaf of fresh bread, and maybe some roasted potatoes. It’s fast, easy, and comforting on grocery day.
The second benefit is the real secret. After pulling the meat off the bones for dinner, I start making a homemade stock. This stuff is INCREDIBLE. In a large stockpot, I cover the chicken bones with water, add in carrots, celery, onion and herbs and let it simmer for 3-4 hours. The longer, the better. Anyone can do this, it takes no skill. Before bed, I strain the stock and store it in the fridge. Zach and I have had a little taste test between homemade stock and store-bought. The results are wildly different. This stock gives all my soups richer, deeper flavor that I could never get before. If you have extra, freeze it in ziplock bags (but don’t overfill them).
The third benefit is that sometimes, we don’t eat all of the pulled chicken and I freeze the leftovers. In this season of life, I’m not always up for trying new recipes but I did try a couple this winter. I’ve started making chicken pot pies, using the frozen leftovers and stock, which are magically comforting. I was always hesitant to try these, but now I’m hooked. A rotisserie chicken makes a pot pie fairly quick and simple to assemble.
Let’s add it up. $5 chicken = dinner + 8 cups of stock + a pot pie. You would pay more than that just for the store-bought stock. It’s a steal.
PS: The stock and pot pie recipes come from this favorite cookbook of mine.