What's Fabulous: Rotisserie Chickens

Meals With a Ready-Cooked Chicken

What's Fabulous: Rotisserie Chickens

Meals With a Ready-Cooked Chicken

It seems like everyone is right now just slammed with work.  Maybe it's because the year has fully revved up or it could be a stale holiday leftover with past-due tasks that must now get done.  For as long as I can remember, the first quarter has always been my busiest time of the year and right now I'm having days when the volume of looming deadlines make my head hurt.

At times like these, going to my kitchen at the end of a stressful day is a respite.  While it is rare that I can't find an hour to make dinner, what gets sacrificed is time spent on shopping and prepping.  These are the real time gulpers for home cooks, not those fabled "30 minutes" spent at the stove.  But I've embraced one answer for the over-committed city cook who is fighting the lure of take-out food:  the rotisserie chicken.

Many of New York's best food markets sell perfectly cooked whole chickens.  They're roasted in a spit throughout the day, every day.  For the busy city cook, buying a still-warm little chicken -- most are around two-and-one-half pounds -- is like a secret ingredient that can keep your hands from dialing for pizza.

Here's why I love them:

 

Where to Buy Rotisserie Chickens

The city's bigger food markets all cook and sell them -- Whole Foods, Citarella's, Fairway, Zabar's, Balducci's, Eli's Manhattan, many other and most of the chain supermarkets.  Some of the better butchers also sell them, including Lobel's and Schatzie's.

You can also buy a whole roasted chicken on a take-out basis from some of the city's ethnic restaurants, such as the Chinese-Peruvian Flor de Mayo on West 107th Street or one of the bigger, better delis like Carnegie.  Restaurant prices are usually higher, however, so try a food market first.

Turning a Chicken Into a Meal

The simplest way to eat a rotisserie chicken is of course just as it is -- carved into pieces and served with a side of a full flavored cooked vegetable like glazed carrots or steamed asparagus.  Or make a salad of French green beans (haricots verts) that you've steamed on the stovetop or in the microwave, then left on the counter to quickly cool to room temperature; toss the tender beans, still slightly warm, with raw, halved cherry tomatoes and a pinch of sea salt, and drizzle everything with a little extra virgin olive oil, letting the tomatoes' juices provide the acid.

But you can also turn the chicken into something special by using it as the main ingredient in other dinner meals:

 

In other words, any recipe that needs pre-cooked chicken can be made with a rotisserie chicken.  So take advantage of one of the benefits of easy city cooking by buying a ready cooked chicken from one of our neighborhood food merchants. 

Although I began this article by whining about being overworked, I know that complaining is pointless.  Instead it may be more helpful to share the gratifying comment made in this past Sunday's New York Times Magazine.  U.S. Poet Laureate Charles Simic was asked what advice he'd give to people who are looking to be happy.  His answer:  "For starters, learn how to cook."  Sounds like poetry to me.

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