by Sharyn Lonsdale
Growing up, I spent many weekends at my grandparents’ house where they had a drawer filled with candy and gum and I got to drink Bosco and Tang. But my favorite treat was when my nana would skewer a whole chicken and turn on the rotisserie oven she kept on the back porch. I loved watching the chicken spin slowly around, getting browner by the hour, and it seemed like it took hours, listening to it creak and whine, dripping fat in what I imagined was 500 degree heat. When my Nana finally released it from its silver spear, the super moist chicken, with its dark crispy skin, tasted so much better than any oven roasted version I had ever had. I still resent my mother for tossing the rotisserie when Nana sold the house. I desperately wanted that noisy, single-use contraption.
I could buy a 25-lb. countertop rotisserie oven on sale for $85.99 at Wayfair with one glowing 5-Star review. Even more tempting, for about the same price I could own my own vintage RONCO Showtime Platinum 5000 Rotisserie and Barbecue Oven. Remember the infomercial? “Set it and forget it.”
As cool as it would be to have my own rotisserie, I just don’t have the real estate on my kitchen counter. But what I do have is a membership to Costco, home of the almost mutantly-large $5 seasoned rotisserie chicken. While I appreciate the more modest-size pricier local birds, it’s worth the 20-minute drive for the Costco version.
According to a 2019 article in Reader’s Digest, Costco’s chickens weigh an average of three pounds, almost twice as much as their rivals, and they are injected with a saline solution, also known as brining, to make them even tastier. It’s no surprise the chain sells more than 60 million chickens a year. However, because they are so crazy cheap, Costco loses “between $30 and $40 million a year on the chickens.” I assume they count on folks like me,who go in for a chicken and leave with a chicken, two cases of flavored water, 48 AA batteries and a mattress.
One Costco chicken can easily feed a family of four for two days. But if there are just two of you at home, after the third day of picking meat off the bird, things get a bit boring. Of course there are the usual suspects, chicken soup, salad, enchiladas or pot pie, or “I’ll just throw what’s left in a saucepan and smother it in homemade barbecue sauce.”
There are also blogs, websites and Pinterest boards loaded with recipes for rotisserie chicken, and a Costco Rotisserie Chicken Facebook page with more than 18,000 followers. Fun fact: There are at least six cookbooks dedicated to rotisserie chicken recipes? SIX!
You, of course, can use any rotisserie chicken for these recipes. If you are a member of Costco, I recommend buying two chickens at a time, keep one in the fridge and shred the other, separating the meat into freezer bags for several meals.
I tweaked this popular casserole recipe to be a bit less heavy. Prepare the bacon in advance to make this quick prep even faster.
Crack Chicken Casserole
4 cups cooked chopped chicken
1 package Ranch salad dressing mix
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup low-fat sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
½ cup chopped cooked bacon
1 ½ cups crushed Ritz crackers
¼ cup melted butter
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Lightly spray a 9×9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
Combine chicken, Ranch seasoning, cheddar cheese, bacon, sour cream and cream of chicken soup. Spread into prepared pan.
Combine crushed crackers and butter, sprinkle over chicken mixture.
Bake uncovered 30 to 40 minutes. Freezes well.
Asian Peanut Chicken Wraps
Substitute store-bought peanut sauce for homemade and you can put these healthy and delicious wraps together in just a few minutes
2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
3 cups broccoli slaw mix
2-3 diced scallions
1/3 cup roasted peanuts (unsalted
or lightly salted)
Fresh cilantro (optional)
6 large flour tortillas
Peanut Sauce: (store-bought peanut sauce will also work)
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 minced garlic clove
1 tsp sesame oil
Dash tabasco or sriracha sauce and salt to taste
Combine sauce ingredients in a food processor or whisk in a medium bowl. If too thick, or strong, dilute with water
Combine slaw, peanuts and cilantro in another bowl, and then stir in sauce.
Microwave tortillas for 10 seconds to make them softer.
Divide chicken and slaw among the tortillas, roll tightly. Secure with toothpicks if necessary.
Hint: Substitute large leaves of romaine lettuce for tortillas for even healthier lettuce wraps.