Use these tips to make the most of that ready-to-eat bird.

Nothing saves time like a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket. I can't count how many times it's made a good dinner possible on a busy weeknight. As a matter of fact, I buy them enough that I have a system in place for what to do as soon as I get the chicken home. Here they are:

1. Save the juice.

Reserve the liquid at the bottom of the plastic dish your chicken came in. It's packed with flavor from the meat, a little bit of fat from the skin, and it's a surefire way to turbo-charge any sauce you might create. Or, you can just add it to the chicken stock you might make later (see #4).

2. Break it down.

While it's still good and hot, I break down the chicken into parts (it's easier while warm). You can do this in any order you want, but here's how I do it:

  • Take the breast off the bone. Try to keep as much skin intact as you can. It just looks better.
  • Remove the thighs.
  • Take off drumsticks and wings.

3. Remove the meat.

Take the remaining carcass and pull off any meat from it. You'll be surprised how much there is. Reserve that meat for, well, whatever you want. I make soup or chicken salad for lunch the next day. As a matter of fact, I go ahead and pick the meat off the thighs, drumsticks, and wings, too. I reserve the bones with carcass.

Whole Rotisserie Chicken
Credit: CookingOnABudget

4. Make stock.

While I'm not the sort that always makes my own stock, I at least make some whenever I buy one of these chickens. It's really so simple, there's no reason not. Typically, the bones from one chicken make enough stock for 1 pot of homemade chicken soup. That's a pretty good ratio as far as I'm concerned. What's so great about this is that all the bones and cartilage really make a thicker, more "restaurant-style" stock. You can really taste the difference when you use it.

Here's how I make the chicken stock:

  • Put the bones in a stockpot.
  • Add 1 chopped carrot, about half an onion, roughly chopped, and 1 chopped celery stalk.
  • Find seasonings you want: whole peppercorns (or a few turns of a pepper grinder), 1 bay leaf, a smashed garlic clove, whatever sounds good.
  • Add water. I try to make sure I've got about 2 quarts of water to start. Just make sure everything in the pot is covered in water.
  • Bring it to a low boil, then simmer for about 2 hours, partially covered.

Do all this, and you get dinner the first night, lunch the next day, and soup whenever you feel like it. Pretty good for one rotisserie chicken.