Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Costco rotisserie chicken, a weekly purchase: roasted pepper and chicken tostadas

Hopefully you live near a Costco and you are a member so that you, like me, can go at least once a week and bring home the key ingredient to a quick dinner:  the rotisserie chicken.  Sure I keep boneless, skinless breasts and tenders on hand at all times, but the little happiness I feel when I don't have to saute them just to add chicken to a dish is priceless.  Sure it's a little more expensive to buy a whole chicken roasted than to do it yourself, but I am a pretty accomplished cook and I still set off the smoke detectors every time I roast a chicken in my oven.  Of course then there is the complaining from whoever is home that everything smells like chicken after the roasting has released all those lovely aerosolized particles of savory chicken goodness into the air.  The biggest problem is the coat hooks are just around the corner from the oven and a nice thick wool and pleather varsity letter jacket really holds all the chicken goodness.  The second biggest problem is only a concern to me, my yoga towels awaiting another round on the mat are just around the corner too and when you sweep down to the mat and roll your nose past the chicken smell it can be a potent nausea inducing moment.  Mmmmmmm....  Anyway, buy a chicken every week, get home and take off the skin and pull the breast meat off and then do what you like with the dark meat.  Maybe you are super lucky and no one in your house cares whether the shredded chicken is light or dark meat.  I don't live in that house.  The dark meat is lunch for Greg at my house.  My departed outdoor cat, Carmel (still miss him because he was awesome and my little declawed indoor pal is not nearly as effective at ridding us of little rodents that come out of the woods) would come running when I took that delicious bird out of my van.  Memories....


Last night the said chicken became the base for tostadas adapted from Fine Cooking.  I often just make up the chicken this way and use it for chicken tacos or burrito bowls.  Warm some olive oil in your pan, saute a chopped onion (if you like it) and a couple of minced garlic cloves until softened and fragrant.  Add the shredded or diced chicken, 1/2 tsp of kosher salt, 1/2 tsp of cumin and a squeezed lime.  Cook until warmed through.  You can add a little chili powder, some diced chilies from a can or whatever you like.  For a burrito bowl fiesta just fill your table with bowls of lettuce, cheese, salsa (remember buy or make -see below- the fresh stuff, you are better than salsa from a jar, trust me), guacamole, beans, rice or whatever.

Here's the tostada recipe.  Note you can cook your chicken mixture as above or just toss it in a bowl and top the tostadas with the cold mixture.  Cooking the onion and garlic mellows out those flavors which generally appeals to a wider audience.  The recipe instructs you to roast poblano and bell peppers, but you can always use the little roasted diced chiles in the can and the bottled roasted peppers (packed in water, not oil both are easily found at Trader Joe's and both are good to keep on hand).

Roasted Pepper and Chicken Tostadas

red bell pepper, cored, seeded and quartered into flat pieces
poblano pepper, cored, seeded and in flat pieces
3 - 4 cups shredded rotisserie chicken (skin removed)
2 T olive oil
white or sweet onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp kosher salt
one lime, juiced over pan
1/2 C light sour cream
1/4 C chopped cilantro
1/2 C frozen corn (the fire roasted corn from TJ's is great for this), thawed, optional
6 - 8 small white or yellow corn tortillas
1/4 to 1/2 C shredded cheese (colby/jack, Mexican blend or sharp cheddar)
salsa or salsa verde (recipe follows)

If you are roasting peppers and not taking the shortcut, heat your broiler and move an oven rack close to the broiler element.  Put the peppers skin side up on a baking pan (line with non-stick foil if you like) and broil until skins are blackened (stay in the kitchen and keep an eye on them), about 3-5 minutes.  Transfer the peppers to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap and let cool.  When cool (15 minutes or so), remove the charred skin by hand or using a paper towel.  Chop the peppers and set aside.

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Toss the shredded chicken with the olive oil, onion, garlic, cumin, salt and lime or heat the oil, saute and soften the onion and garlic and warm the chicken, cumin, salt and lime juice before assembling the tostadas.  You choose.

Mix the sour cream with cilantro and another good squeeze of lime if desired.  If everyone in your house likes sour cream and peppers, blend the peppers into this mixture.  If not, keep them as separate toppings.
If you like corn, blend it with the sour cream too.

the picky eater versions and note the not shredded, but sliced and torn cheese
(oops, forgot something at the store)
Place the tortillas on the baking sheet.  Top with the chicken mixture, the sour cream mixture, the peppers and a good sprinkling of cheese.  Bake until warmed through and the cheese is melted, 5-10 minutes.

Salsa Verde

a pound or so of tomatillos (I can usually only find a dozen or so that look nice and plump and fresh)
1/2 of a white or sweet onion, chopped
1/2 bunch of cilantro, cleaned, stemmed and chopped
1 tsp kosher salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1 serrano pepper, cored, seeded (very important, the seeds have all the heat) and finely chopped

Peel the paper husks and cut off the stems (if needed) of the tomatillos.  Place in a pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and simmer until the color mellows (maybe 10 minutes).  Drain in a colander.

simmering tomatillos
cilantro, onions, serrano pepper
in the processor waiting for processing

Place in a food processor.  Let cool for 5-10 minutes and process until smooth.  Blend with remaining ingredients by hand, or in the processor (pulse for chunky salsa and puree for smooth).  Taste for salt.
This salsa "sets up" or gels if there are leftovers.  Just heat it up in the microwave and stir before serving. You could try adding a little olive oil to the fresh salsa and see if that keeps it from thickening.  Hmmmm....

2 comments:

  1. I'm coming to your house for your next dinner party. Maybe a gourmet club together is in our future. I love to cook. These look delish. Your writing is just as adorable as you. I'm glad you bought the costco chicken...just incase I'm next to you at yoga tomorrow :)

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