by Jenny Castaneda1
5 Best Ways to Repurpose Leftover Chicken
“I’d love some leftovers please,” said no one ever. Chicken is notoriously one of those leftovers that nobody really cares for – plus, it takes up some real estate in your fridge. Stop wondering how you can get your family to eat it without forcibly shoving it down their throats. Repurpose leftover chicken that has seen better days by turning it into an entirely new meal that’s flavorful enough that no one would suspect they are eating it for the second time around!
1. Pack for Tomorrow’s Lunch
Uh oh it’s leftovers for lunch, but wait, this doesn’t look or taste boring! Chop leftover chicken into bite sized pieces and add sliced cucumbers, red onions, cherry tomatoes and artichoke hearts; mix everything together in a bowl. Prepare fresh homemade honey mustard dressing by combining extra virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon/lime juice, whole grain Dijon mustard, honey, salt and pepper in a jar, cover and give it a good shake to emulsify. Just eyeball the measurements and adjust each ingredient if you want it sweeter or tangier. Drizzle it generously on the chicken salad and toss to make sure everything is coated with the dressing. As it sits overnight, the chicken will be infused with a sweet tangy flavor and becomes a delicious, juicy morsel by lunchtime.
2. Jazz Up a Frittata
Ah frittatas. They can be made up of anything and everything that you can find in your kitchen. Combine eggs, protein, vegetables and Bam! A delicious, fancy looking and brunch worthy dish best enjoyed while dining al fresco and leisurely sipping a cup of coffee or tea (okay, mimosas! who am I kidding). I don’t think you’d be able to tell that’s leftover chicken in there. One of my favorite frittata creations would be to combine shredded chicken with sun dried tomatoes, bacon, asparagus and a lot of leeks. If you tolerate dairy, mix in your favorite raw cheese for the ultimate indulgence.
I look at stir fry’s as another way to clean out the fridge and use up all the ingredients that are holding on to their last breath. Make a quick and easy one by melting a little bit of ghee on a skillet, add shredded leftover chicken and sauté it with some minced garlic and chopped onions. Found some wilting greens in the fridge? Toss it in with the chicken! Leftover roasted vegetables? Add those too! Once you got everything but the kitchen sink in your pan, season it with some coconut aminos (in lieu of soy sauce), salt, black pepper and a squeeze of lemon to tie the flavors of the dish together.
4. Add Zoodles for Fun
Leftover chicken is almost always the top ranking candidate to transform into a piping hot bowl of Chicken Noodle Soup especially during the colder months or when someone is feeling under the weather. Turn this quintessential dish into something more exciting by replacing pasta with vegetable noodles aka “zoodles” which can easily be made using a nifty spiralizer or a simple julienne hand held peeler. I like to combine zucchini and carrots for an added pop of color plus it’s something different and a smart way to get kids to eat their vegetables as well!
5. Save the Bones
On days when cooking a meal is the last thing on your mind, it’s always easy to pick up a rotisserie chicken and some sides from the deli store for a quick, no fuss weeknight meal. After everyone in the family has eaten their favorite parts and you are left with the carcass, can you still do something with it? Absolutely! Make some delicious homemade bone broth that is so much better than sodium and preservative laden store bought ones.
Start by breaking the bones into smaller pieces; place them in a slow cooker with some carrots, celery, onion, whole peppercorn, salt and a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to help extract all the minerals from the bones. Add water until it covers the bones 1 inch past the top and let it cook low and slow for 8-10 hours or overnight. You will then be rewarded with a nutrient-dense broth that can be used as a soup base, a flavor addition to any recipe or simply enjoyed by itself as a warm comforting drink.