Get the Idea: Meals using leftover roast chicken
Italian food writer Marcella Hazan once wrote that “a recipe is the congealed record of a spontaneous act”. This means that every time you cook even the same recipe, it will inevitably be slightly different from the last time you made it, owing to things like variations in produce, ingredients and even how you are feeling.
Recipes are just examples of the way to cook things. Don’t worry too much if you need to vary ingredients for a recipe, just make sure the essence of the recipe is preserved. The more recipes you know, the more ways you will know how to cook.
Cooking is all about improvising — you are allowed to change recipes to suit what is available. Dealing with something as basic as a roast chicken (see my no frills recipe here) is easy when you roast it well and then use your imagination to present it in different ways, which is what I have done with the following.
For a serious roast chicken sandwich, toast sourdough bread over high heat or on the barbecue, spread with butter, Dijon mustard, some of the chicken stuffing, add plenty of roast chicken meat and cos lettuce leaves, top with more toast and serve, dill pickles on the side.
Blanch some green beans, drain, place in a salad bowl with grated carrot, blanched prawns, halved cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumber, crushed roasted unsalted peanuts, plenty of roast chicken meat, sliced red chilli, sprigs of mint and coriander and a dressing of half fish sauce, slightly more lime juice, crushed palm sugar to sweeten well, a little sesame oil and a little sliced garlic.
Steam some jasmine rice and place on a warm serving platter. Pile plenty of roast chicken meat, chopped walnuts, chopped parsley, sliced spring onions, some currants, pomegranate seeds and a dressing of red wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil on top and serve.
Make a potato galette by thinly slicing peeled agrias, and layering them in a small baking paper-lined cake tin with salt, pepper, sliced garlic and butter. Cover and bake at 200C for 40 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Serve in wedges with the carved chicken, a sprinkling of crumbled feta, black olives, capers, lemon zest, coriander and lemon wedges for squeezing.
Make quick pickled crunchy vegetables. Place thinly sliced cucumber, carrot and celery in a bowl, sprinkle with salt, reserve for 30 minutes then rinse well and squeeze dry. Dress with white wine vinegar and a little sugar and serve stuffed into warm flour tortillas with lots of the chicken meat, sliced avocado, sour cream, coriander, sliced iceberg lettuce and a splash of your favourite hot sauce. Just put everything on the table in bowls and let everyone assemble their own.
Fry chopped onion, sliced green beans, finely diced carrot, thin-sliced celery, finely chopped ginger, chilli and garlic in a little vegetable oil until hot cooked but still crisp. Add leftover steamed rice, lots of the chicken meat, mung bean sprouts, sliced iceberg and a splash of Japanese soy sauce. Stir-fry and serve with Thai sweet chilli sauce.
To use up the stuffing, form it into small balls and fry gently in extra virgin olive oil until browned but not too crisp. Toss through a well-dressed crunchy green salad.
Crumble the stuffing into small pieces and toss with boiled potato chunks, some anchovy fillets, a splash of extra virgin olive oil and sliced spring onions. Pile into a shallow ovenproof dish, sprinkle breadcrumbs, parmesan and small pieces of butter on top and bake at 200C for 20-30 minutes until hot and browned. Serve with the carved chicken and a green vegetable.
Make a slaw with very thinly sliced cabbage (green, red or savoy are all fine), grated carrot, diced gherkins, capers, sliced chilli, toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds and a generous dressing of bought mayo, plain unsweetened yoghurt, lemon juice and a big spoonful of tahini. Taste and season. Toss with plenty of the chicken meat and serve in warm sourdough rolls.
Boil plenty of small green or brown lentils until tender, drain, toss with plenty of extra virgin olive oil, place in a shallow serving platter and add ripped radicchio or witloof leaves, thinly sliced pitted fresh dates, walnuts, finely chopped red onion, finely diced preserved lemon peel and chopped parsley. Pile plenty of the chicken meat on top, drizzle with a little more oil and serve sprinkled with more parsley and lemon wedges on the side for squeezing.