Why I Roast Chicken Without a Plan for It

Kitchen Diary: Kate in New York City

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You know that feeling when you open a refrigerator and it's full of endless possibilities? It's a liberating, wonderful start to whipping up something fast, but let's face it: this only happens when I open my mother's fridge. While you could seldom experience this in my own kitchen, there's one thing I've found is a great start to fabulous meals: cold roast chicken.

With the threat of spoiled food and the annoyance of stocking up all at once sans car, the things kicking around my kitchen don't usually conjure anything too complex out of the blue. The game changer I've realized, is having a bit of cold roast chicken ready to go. Every other week or so, I roast a few chicken breasts with a simple rub — herbs de Provence or even just salt and pepper with lemons.

Typically there's a goal for half of the chicken, but I roast extra because, why not? It's convenient to have around. In the colder months, I might roast a whole chicken, but once it gets warmer I scoop up thighs or breasts at the supermarket as they take less time to cook and therefore heat up the house less.

How many recipes start with "cook this chicken" to do something else with it? By having a plate of ready-to-be-anything-chicken, there are nearly endless possibilities from chicken salad to sautéed Asian-inspired noodles to shredded spicy tacos with sauteed peppers and onions like we did this week.

What are your favorite shortcuts or ways to prep ahead for this type of on-the-fly cooking?

(Image credits: Kate Gagnon)