A while back I had a discussion with a friend about those tasty rotisserie chickens from places like Costco and the grocery store. I love the convenience of them.
My friend, a stay-at-home mom, was less enthusiastic about them, saying she does not like the sodium. Yet when I asked how she makes a roast chicken at home, her first words were, “I rub it with butter and olive oil then sprinkle with sea salt.”
And, not to say that she is not busy in her day at home with her children, I know she is. But she also is at home, where she can reasonably pop a chicken in the oven and walk away for a while as it roasts.
I work, which is my choice. But it also means I like to use certain convenience products from time to time, including a nice rotisserie chicken.
I like Whole Foods’ smoked chicken, since there is so much flavor from the smoking. It is great in a soup.
But I also like the basic Costco roast chicken. It’s a steal at $4.99, so when I hit up the warehouse once a month, I grab a few of them. I can take them home, discard the salty skin and remove the meat to freeze for later use. I just let it thaw before using it.
Usually I mix it with other ingredients to create a completely different dish, such as soups or pasta dishes. I avoid adding more salt so I don’t feel too bad about the salt already in the chicken. Of course, if you are already roasting one chicken at home, it’s not much more work to roast another and freeze the meat for later.
A favorite way to use this chicken (or leftover pork roast or carnitas) is to make a dish based on a recipe I saw in Cooking Light magazine. They call it a chimichanga. I just cannot bring myself to call it that since what makes a chimi a chimi is that it’s fried.
To me, it’s more like a baked burrito with chicken, beans and cheese.
I load mine up with fresh tomato, cilantro and green onions for flavor and color. There is also some cumin and diced green chiles (I love the Trader Joe’s Hatch chiles in a can) mixed in for even more punch. These are not spicy, mind you, just very flavorful.
They cook very fast, crisping up in the 500-degree heat of the oven in less than 10 minutes. The beans and cheese hold everything together once the tortillas are rolled up tightly. Since the chicken is already cooked, the oven time is really just to heat up the filling, melt the cheese, and cook the tortilla to a light golden brown.
The Cooking Light recipe calls for spraying the tops of the tortillas with cooking spray before they go in the oven. I opt to brush them with a little grapeseed oil. The flavor is very light and it stands up fine to the high heat.
Once they are done, I like to add my favorite salsa and some sliced avocado when I serve these. It’s a meal that’s a hit with the Man and the kid.
And even though she won’t buy the pre-cooked chicken to make these, I passed the recipe on to my friend and it was a hit with her family, too.
Baked burritos with chicken and beans
Based on a recipe from Cooking Light
Yield: 6 burritos
Time: 30 minutes
2 ½ cups roasted chicken, shredded
¼ cup green onions, thinly sliced
2-3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, diced
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
1 can diced green chiles, drained (4 ½ ounces)
6 flour tortillas
1 can fat-free refried pinto or black beans (low sodium preferred) (16 ounces)
1 cup shredded cheddar or Mexican cheese blend
Salsa (whatever you like) and avocado for serving
Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Cover a large baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Combine chicken, green onions, cilantro, tomatoes, cumin and green chiles in a large bowl, mixing gently to combine.
Divide refried beans evenly among the 6 tortillas, spreading beans evenly over the surface of each tortilla. Divide cheese evenly among the 6 tortillas, sprinkling over the beans.
Divide chicken mixture evenly among the tortillas, spooning it down the center of each. Roll each tightly, placing seam side down on the foil-covered baking sheet.
Lightly brush tops and sides with grapeseed oil and bake at 500 degrees for 7 to 10 minutes, or until tortilla starts to get golden and crispy. (The ends will crisp up faster than the center/tops.)
Serve with your favorite salsa and some sliced avocado.