Rotisserie Chickens to the Rescue!

How to Use the Already-Roasted Chickens You Purchase at the Market to Make More Than 125 Simple and Delicious Meals


By Carla Fitzgerald Williams

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Want to serve a home-cooked meal but don’t have the time?
Rotisserie Chickens to the Rescue!

With this easy-to-use, no-fuss, no-fail cookbook, you can take the same rotisserie chickens you can buy anywhere and use these already-roasted birds to create meals that are totally fresh, new, and different. For example, add tomatoes, mushrooms, herbs, and spices to your chopped chicken, spoon it over pasta, and you’ve got Chicken Cacciatore. Or pick the meat off the bones, add vegetables, chow mein noodles, and the right dressing and suddenly you have Chinese Chicken Salad. Here are over 125 recipes for everything from California Cobb Salad to Homestyle Chicken Noodle Casserole to amazing appetizers, soups, sandwiches, and side dishes. Rotisserie Chickens to the Rescue! proves that even the most timid cook can make an endless array of delicious, exciting, and easy home-cooked meals in no time at all! Put a world of new ideas and flavors at your fingertips with the following recipes:

Quick Starts: Stuffed Mushrooms Alfredo; Roasted Chicken and Dill Slather; Spice Island Turnovers with Pineapple Mango Dipping Sauce

Standout Salads: Moroccan Couscous, Raisin, and Mint Salad; Southwestern Taco Salad; Three-Bean Pasta Salad

Soups in a Snap: Double Corn and Chicken Chowder; Chinese-Style Noodle Soup; Chicken and Lime Tortilla Soup; Chunky Chicken Minestrone

Cozy Casseroles: Broccoli and Crouton Strata; Chicken and Biscuit Pot Pie; Topsy-Turvy Tamale Pie; Pasta Cordon Bleu

Knockout Noodles and Glorious Grains: Chicken and Rice Divan; Roasted Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya; Chicken Tetrazzini; Tex-Mex Mac and Cheese

And much, much more!



Rotisserie Chickens to the Rescue! was born because I am a time-starved cook who is too stubborn to give up home-cooked meals just because time is tight and my life sometimes borders on chaotic. The concept for this book started with a simple dinner and grew into a quest for letting rotisserie chickens help me do what I have always loved doing: tinkering with recipes, serving myriad different flavors in home-cooked meals, and having the energy to enjoy the meals with everyone else.

My love affair with rotisserie chickens began after I invited friends who were passing through town to come for a spur-of-the-moment weeknight dinner. These friends remembered when I used to mix and roll my own pasta and chop tomatoes to make the sauce. With two young sons and very little time, those days were clearly behind me. As I wandered in the grocery store, children in tow and mumbling to myself about needing another pair of hands, I spotted the case filled with rotisserie chickens. The culinary lightbulb went off. The extra pair of hands was right in that case!

I knew the chickens were tasty because I had bought them on occasion as a take-out alternative for my family. But they were much more than that. Here was a fresh, already-roasted chicken with tender meat just waiting to be used as the base for an even more exciting, more enticing dish. I realized that day that a rotisserie chicken could be used as an ingredient. A spice blend here, a quick chop there, and Hurry Curry and my love affair with cooking with rotisserie chickens were born. Dinner was delicious and on time, and I was not the least bit frazzled. My guests wondered how I did it. Since I had known them for so long, I divulged my secret weapon. "It was easy," I replied. "A rotisserie chicken came to my rescue!"


Spit-roasting, the precursor to rotisserie chickens, is one of the oldest methods of cooking. Rotisserie chickens as we know them first cropped up in American supermarkets in the 1950s. Flavored with barbecue seasonings, they puttered along through the '60s, an era when new homes often had built-in ovens with a rotisserie. I still remember my mother proudly inching a freshly roasted chicken off the rod. The National Chicken Council informed me that the trend toward in-store roasting appeared to taper off until the 1990s, and then they moved full-speed ahead. You would be hard-pressed to walk into any supermarket and not find these deliciously convenient and reasonably priced chickens waiting for you. In addition, with rotisserie chickens blooming in popularity, there are the countless chickens roasted at home. Chances are you have a roasted chicken in your refrigerator right now.


In Rotisserie Chickens to the Rescue! I share my secrets for transforming a simple rotisserie chicken, store bought or home roasted, or part of a rotisserie chicken, into something different and delicious using readily available ingredients, easy-to-do techniques, and everyday kitchen equipment. These plump, ready-to-eat treasures can be chopped, sliced, or shredded to become a springboard for creating everything from delicious appetizers and sandwiches to tantalizing soups and casseroles, all with very little time and effort—and no special skill required. You can start with a rotisserie chicken and serve everything from Quick Coq au Vin and Chicken and Biscuit Pot Pie to Hot and Sour Soup and Speedy Skillet Paella. Or they can be doused with an easy homemade glaze for an extra-quick flavor boost. You can even cheat a little by warming the whole chicken and surrounding it with a zippy side dish for a presentation you will be proud of.

The recipes in Rotisserie Chickens to the Rescue! have the flavor, convenience, and flexibility we look for in cooking and eating. You buy or roast a chicken, open this book, and suddenly you are not serving "just chicken" anymore. Each scrumptious recipe includes the preparation necessary to maximize flavor while minimizing time and effort. I save even more time without sacrificing the good tastes we all crave by taking advantage of the growing bounty of easy-to-use fresh produce, exciting sauces and salsas, and flavorful ethnic ingredients. Never again will you be faced with having to serve a rotisserie chicken plain or tossing out uneaten chicken a few days later. This book will show you that when you have a rotisserie chicken, you have possibilities!


I love food fantasy as much as the next food lover, but my family and I need to eat every day. These recipes reflect that. The recipes in this book are ones that real people can cook within realistic time constraints. A few recipes are a tad more involved—for instance, the Muffaletta Salad requires a fair amount of chopping—but most can be on the table with much less to do. In fact, if a recipe became too involved, I thought about the reality of my life and rethought the recipe because your life is probably as busy as mine, and I want you to use these recipes.

Why These Recipes Will Work for You

One of the things I hope that my book will do is get people in the kitchen cooking, and to do that the recipes must be practical. I use ingredients that are readily available in grocery stores. These recipes were developed, tested, and retested using nonprofessional home ranges because that is what most of you have and I want these recipes to work for you just as I have created them. Professional ranges are much more powerful and can yield different results in different time frames. If you happen to have one, adjust the cooking times as you need to. The only special equipment I used were a food processor in a few recipes and a slow cooker in a smattering of others to take advantage of their convenience.

To help ensure that these recipes will work for you, I used the same safety net that big companies do: I engaged other professional testers to double-check them.


Feeding a family can be a tricky business. Tight time frames, varied preferences, and multiple schedules can make it challenging to feed a family at home. I have two young sons, and they dined on the recipes in this book. The thumbs-up were many and the thumbs-down few. (I would not expect a six-year-old and a three-year-old to want Muffaletta Salad, but I am all for exposing them to new things.)

I decided not to label recipes that I thought were especially appropriate for children because each child is different. Instead, I worked to develop recipes that would appeal to several age groups, and they have been tasted by everyone from preschoolers to grandmas. Good descriptions and spice recommendations are included to assist you in selecting what is right for your family. You know your family, and you are the best judge of what they will enjoy. I can tell you, though, that they are sure to like the recipes in this book.


There are no secrets to using Rotisserie Chickens to the Rescue! It is simple to use. The recipes are straightforward, and the ingredients are easy to find. I have offered tips here and there along with the recipes to make this book even more useful. Among the tips you will find are:

Notes—Tips on ingredients or cooking

Lighter Touch—Ways to reduce fat or calories

In a Pinch—What to do if you are really tight on time or are out of an ingredient

Play It Again—Ideas for using leftovers

These tips and others are there to help make Rotisserie Chickens to the Rescue! even more fun and practical to cook from.


Rotisserie Chickens to the Rescue! is a treasure trove of more than 125 recipes for the novice and the experienced cook alike. It will put a world of flavors and a full array of easy, delicious options at your fingertips. I hope that you enjoy cooking with Rotisserie Chickens to the Rescue! I have certainly enjoyed creating these recipes for you. I am confident that Rotisserie Chickens to the Rescue! will be found in your kitchen, not on your bookshelf.


Pantries are indispensable when you are cooking quickly because they give you what you need when you need it. My idea of a pantry includes the cupboard, refrigerator, freezer, and cooking equipment. In this chapter I will show you how to quickly set up what you need to prepare the recipes in this book and how to have what you need at hand. When you do need something at the grocery store, you will often be able to go through the express lane because you will typically not need much to put one of these scrumptious meals on the table.


I used to have ingredients stockpiled "just in case" and more ingredients stockpiled "just because"—because they looked tasty, because I might use them in a recipe, or because they were on sale. One day, after digging through the cabinet, I surfaced exasperated but jubilant at having found the olives I was searching for. I realized that I had devoted far too much time to the search and wasted precious energy looking for what should have been easy to spot. That ended my stockpiling days.

The purpose of a pantry is not to hold everything we might ever need. Its purpose is to put what we are likely to need at our fingertips. After that search for olives, I spent an afternoon going through my cabinets, refrigerator, and freezer and tossing what was outdated. I also lined up like ingredients and jotted down what I really used. Then I put the most frequently used pots and bowls within easy reach. You may need to spend a few hours, but after you have cleared the decks and bought the provisions for your rotisserie chicken pantry, getting meals together will be faster than ever. Remember, it doesn't matter if you can cook the meal in thirty minutes if it takes you another thirty minutes to find the ingredients and the equipment. Now when I go into the kitchen, I can find what I need when I need it. The olives? They are in the far right row in the cabinet next to the dishwasher.


I try to eat before I shop, and I shop with a list. We hear it all the time because it is true: You buy more unnecessary ingredients when you are hungry, and a list saves time and money. I group my list by how the store is set up so I don't end up going back and forth. I also did myself a favor by putting my list on the computer. Now I don't have to handwrite each item every time I go to the store. Create your own shopping list or see here for a sample pantry list.

Once I am in the store, I keep my eyes open, try to stick to the list, and think about what I am planning to cook. I do pay attention to deals, however. If bell peppers are on sale, I might put together my Salsa-Stuffed Bell Peppers with Chipotle Sauce. If I am really pressed for time and am planning the California Cobb Salad for dinner, for example, I might pick up chopped eggs at the salad bar instead of boiling and chopping my own. Already-shredded bagged carrots are available in the produce section, but if I know that I will end up tossing half the bag, I might once again stop by the salad bar and pick up a few handfuls of carrots there. The people in the service deli have even cut rotisserie chickens into serving pieces for me when I had needed them to be ready right away. Thinking outside of the obvious helps me create recipes and get meals to the table with time to spare.


To keep my cans, bottles, and spices up-to-date, I take a marker and write the purchase date on the label. That way, I use the oldest purchases first and do not end up discarding unused ingredients. Since I now line up ingredients by type, it is a snap to put my hands on what I need and to know when I need more.

I suggest cleaning out your fridge before you go shopping so that you know what you need and can put the groceries away quickly when you get home. Pay attention to what you don't use; you can save yourself space and money by not buying as much the next time. I like to keep things in the same spots all the time in the refrigerator and freezer so that I can find them in a hurry. Hunting for Dijon mustard when preparing Pasta Cordon Bleu or rummaging for frozen mixed vegetables to make Quick Chicken Chowder wastes time and energy. Spare yourself the aggravation by keeping like things together.


There was a period in the 1980s when "only fresh will do" seemed to be the culinary belief. Frozen packers and canned manufacturers have come a long way in terms of product offerings and we have revised our thinking. Frozen and canned products can offer tasty convenience. Also, some products have other ingredients added, such as chopped peppers in canned corn, offering time-saving flavor. I sometimes use these products to save a step in recipes. Many of the recipes in my book take advantage of frozen and canned vegetables and jarred sauces to create delicious meals in realistic time frames.

Canned cream soups provide a wonderful base for making sauces. If you are watching your fat intake, you can find some reduced-fat cream soups. It is not difficult to make a sauce by blending flour into the pot and stirring in milk or broth. It is faster, however, to open a can of cream soup and pour it into the pot. When all is said and done, the dish is great and the results are fast.


The rice aisle today does not even vaguely resemble the rice aisle of old when instant white rice and long-grain white rice were the only choices in the typical supermarket. Now you can find everything from wild rice blends to jasmine rice on shelves everywhere. I am a true rice lover, and I find the wide range of rices available today thrilling. The right rice adds flavor and texture to a meal. Rices cook differently, and I have selected the style of rice that I feel works best for each recipe. For best results I suggest that you stick to that rice—no pun intended.

Our pasta choices are also much broader, with dried and fresh pastas available in a variety of shapes and flavors. I use dried pastas for the recipes in this book because that is what I use at home. They keep well, are less expensive, and are a bit sturdier. If you love fresh pastas, however, and want to experiment with them in a dish, go ahead. I use plain pastas instead of flavored varieties and let the flavors come from the sauces. Asian pastas, from ramen noodles to cellophane and soba noodles, are widely available and offer quick, tasty variety.


You can spend a lot of time looking through the cabinet for herbs and spices. The only thing more frustrating than a long hunt is ending up with an empty bottle. I bought plastic graduated shelves from the hardware store for my herbs and spices, and arranged them in alphabetical order so that I can put my hands on them quickly. Oh, one more thing: I put them back in the slot they came from.

You will notice that with the exception of cilantro, mint, and parsley, I almost always use dried herbs in my recipes. I used to grow many of my own herbs and snip them at will. These days, I find that dried herbs often work best for me. They keep a very long time and are always there when I need them. I don't have time to grow my own anymore, and with dried herbs there is no more tossing out the remnants of bunches that have gone bad because I didn't use them.

Spices are a great way to jump-start the good flavors of rotisserie chicken cooking. Many of my recipes have "spice blend" as the first ingredient. I measure the spices together and mix them up thoroughly so that they will combine well in the dish. This is my way of saving time and making sure that they all get in the pot. Who wants to look up and find the paprika on the counter and the Chicken à la Paprikash headed for the table?

If you make a dish frequently, save yourself even more time. Make multiple batches of the spice blend, store each batch in a small plastic bag, and reach for the blend when you make the dish.


I have put together a list of the ingredients that are helpful to have on hand to prepare the recipes in this book. This is only a guide, of course. If you dislike a particular food, by all means don't buy it. If you love something else, add it to the list. Remember to add an ingredient to your shopping list when your supply is low. Menu planning also helps me keep what I need on hand and within reach. For instance, I always keep a dozen eggs in the fridge, but if I know that I am going to make Cobb Frittata during the week, I will buy the eighteen-egg carton so I will have enough.

This ingredient list will enable you to prepare most of the recipes in this book, but it does not include every ingredient you will need to prepare every recipe in this book because your kitchen would be overcrowded. However, if you use this list as a guideline for setting up your pantry, you will be able to put a great meal on the table.

Long Keepers


Artichoke hearts, marinated and unmarinated

Beans: black, cannelini, garbanzo, kidney, pinto, refried, three-bean salad, Great Northern

Corn: cream style, whole kernel, Mexican style

Mandarin orange segments

Mushrooms, dry

Nuts: slivered almonds, chopped peanuts, peanut butter, walnut pieces

Olives: sliced black, green

Onions, French-fried

Peppers, roasted red

Pimiento, diced

Pineapple in juice: chunks and crushed

Potatoes, sliced

Tomatoes: crushed in purée, diced in juice, paste, sauce, sun-dried (dry or oil-packed)



Chiles, diced mild


Liquid pepper sauce


Mustard, Dijon and regular

Worcestershire sauce


Extra-virgin olive oil

Nonstick cooking spray

Vegetable oil


Couscous, instant plain

Pasta, dried: alphabet, fettuccine, small elbow macaroni, penne, spaghetti, wide egg noodles

Polenta: 24- to 28-ounce tube

Ramen noodles, chicken flavored

Rice: extra-long white, instant brown, instant white, jasmine, yellow

Stuffing mix: chicken flavored, cornbread


Alfredo sauce, jarred

Barbecue sauce

Pasta sauce or spaghetti sauce

Salad dressings of choice, clear and creamy

Salsa: chunky, green, and regular

Soy sauce, regular and lite

Stir-fry sauce

Sweet-and-sour sauce

Teriyaki sauce


Ground herbs and spices can be stored for at least six months if kept in a cool, dry, dark place, like a cabinet. Open the bottles and give the spices a quick whiff. If they smell like the spice, they are good. Otherwise, toss them and replace them. Listings with an asterisk (*) are used in one or two recipes.

Allspice, ground

Basil leaves

Bay leaves

Chili powder

Cinnamon, ground

*Creole seasoning

Cumin, ground and seed

Curry powder

Dill weed

*Fajita seasoning

*Garam masala

Garlic powder

Ginger, ground

*Greek seasoning

Italian herb seasoning

Mustard, dry

Nutmeg, ground

*Old Bay seasoning

Onion powder



Parsley flakes

Pepper: black, cayenne, red pepper flakes, white

*Pumpkin pie seasoning





Chicken broth: fat-free less-sodium, about ten 14½-ounce cans

Corn muffin mix


Croutons: garlic and herb

Garlic, jarred minced (typically found in produce section)

Ginger, jarred chopped (typically found in produce section)


Milk: canned evaporated and unsweetened coconut


Soups: Cheddar cheese, cream of broccoli, cream of chicken, cream of mushroom, cream of potato, tomato

Sweeteners: brown sugar, granulated sugar, honey

Taco shells: regular size, ready-to-eat

Tortilla chips


Vinegar: cider, unseasoned rice, red wine

Wine: dry white or dry vermouth

Quickly Perishable, and Refrigerated and Frozen


Biscuits, refrigerated—large-size buttermilk

French sandwich rolls: 6-inch (can be wrapped and frozen)

Pita rounds (can be wrapped and frozen)

Prebaked pizza crust: 12-inch (can be frozen)

Tortillas: taco-size corn and burrito-size flour




• Already-shredded: mild Cheddar, sharp Cheddar, Italian blend, Monterey Jack, mozzarella, Parmesan

• Cream: reduced-fat and whipped

• Feta

• Parmesan: grated

Eggs, large



Sour cream: light

Yogurt, plain


Tart apples, such as Granny Smith and Pippin (ask your produce person for good tart apples in your area)


Bell peppers: green and red

Broccoli florets

Carrots: already-shredded, baby, whole


Coleslaw mix

Lemons, two

Limes, three

Mushrooms, sliced

Onions: green, red, and yellow (large, not the new jumbo variety)

Parsley: flat-leaf (Italian)

Potatoes: red, russet

Salad greens: already-torn, prewashed, and ready-to-eat


Tomatoes, cherry and regular


Beans: green, lima

Broccoli: chopped, and in cheese sauce

Corn kernels

Mixed vegetables

Onions, pearl

Orange juice concentrate

Peas and carrots

Spinach: chopped, and creamed


Bacon: one pound, wrapped four slices to a pack and frozen

Rotisserie chicken pieces

Rotisserie chicken carcasses (in freezer if you like to make stock)

Sausage, smoked: andouille and kielbasa (can be frozen)

Shrimp: about 100 per pound (bought and stored frozen)


I am not a gadget cook, and this is not a fancy-equipment cookbook. My rescue recipes use only basic, easy-to-use, easy-to-wash equipment. You can prepare all but a handful of the recipes in this book if you have the following basic equipment:

  • Good chef's knife (I use an 8-inch for everyday cooking)
  • Heavy-bottomed 12-inch nonstick skillet with deep sides
  • Soup pot (I use an 8-quart)
  • Dutch oven
  • 8 × 8-inch glass baking pan
  • 13 × 9-inch glass baking pan
  • Baking sheet
  • 2-quart saucepan
  • 3-quart saucepan

I round out the big equipment with this short list of small equipment:

  • Rubber spatula for mixing and stirring in the bowl
  • Large non-metal heat resistant spoon
  • Large non-metal heat-resistant slotted spoon
  • Wooden spoon(s)
  • Non-metal spatula for turning food on the stove
  • Wire cooling rack
  • Colander
  • Wire whisk
  • Mixing bowls
  • Cutting board

How to Select and Care for Equipment

Not all pots and pans are created equal. Pots and pans made of different materials can wear and conduct heat differently. I prefer stainless steel and enameled cast iron because they cook evenly and do not react with food. I find that heavier pans conduct heat more efficiently and evenly, and they last longer. Look for a heavy nonstick skillet with a handle that is oven safe up to at least 350° F. The handle will be a big help when a recipe goes from stovetop to skillet.

Caring for pots and pans properly can make them last much longer. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for using, cleaning, and storing. Never use a metal turner or spoon with a nonstick skillet. And if you need to stack a nonstick skillet in a cabinet, put a tea towel on top of the nonstick finish to protect it before putting another pan inside.

How to Store Equipment

One of my pet peeves in the kitchen is having to dig out equipment. I keep my trusty 12-inch nonstick skillet and my saucepans on top of the stove. My Dutch oven and soup pot are in the front of the cabinet so that I can get them quickly and not waste precious time moving things around. Keep the utensils and equipment that you use frequently within easy reach. I keep my favorite spatulas and spoons in a little holder on the counter next to the stove so they are where I need them when I need them.


Rotisserie chickens are everywhere, and selecting a chicken is fairly effortless. There is no need to stand over the case and ruminate. I buy chickens in a variety of places, from my local warehouse store to the neighborhood supermarket. I have used chickens from all these stores in my recipes, and they all worked well. Below are some quick guidelines that I hope you will find useful in buying, storing, and cutting rotisserie chickens.


Rotisserie chickens come in a variety of flavors, ranging from plain unsalted and barbecue to lemon herb. Most of the flavor from the seasoning tends to be in the skin, so you do not have to worry about the seasoning when choosing a chicken. If you do not want that flavor, simply peel away the skin. If you know what recipe you are going to prepare, however, go ahead and select a chicken flavor that is compatible.



On Sale
Jul 16, 2013
Page Count
336 pages
Hachette Books

Carla Fitzgerald Williams

About the Author

Carla Fitzgerald Williams has worked with food for over twenty years and has a broad base of culinary experience. A former marketing manager for various food companies, she is a graduate of both the Professional Cooking and Pastry Programs at Peter Kump’s New York Cooking School where she also served as a teaching assistant while enrolled in the programs.

Carla has experience in recipe development and writing including work on the rewrite of The Joy of Cooking and assisting the late Peter Kump on a cookbook and video series. She has worked in restaurant kitchens, assistaed caterers and food stylists, and worked behind the scenes as Associate Producer on a television cooking series. A former owner of a wholesale bakery, Carla has completed coursework with the American Institute of Baking and is currently a candidate for a Masters in Food Science and Nutrition from Chapman University. She lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband and two young sons.

Learn more about this author