I'm back with another Make Ahead Monday post. We eat a lot of chicken in our house, and a lot of times I'll menu plan on using leftover chicken in dishes so that I can just grill an extra breast or whatever. It's a great time saver, especially now that I'm back at work and have an hour between getting home with 2 kids and getting dinner on the table. But, to save even more time, I sometimes like to poach a bunch of chicken on Sunday and chop or shred it for later in the week, or even the freezer. As an added bonus, if you poach it with flavor enhancers like veggies, bay leaves, a little garlic you can use the poaching liquid to make broth. This is also a great way to actually use some of the forgotten veggies on their last legs! It's not quite as flavorful as broth made with bones, but it works, especially for dishes where you don't need a lot of extra flavor from the broth. I love to use it to make rice!
This is great to do when chicken is on sale as well. Just poach some chicken, dice or shred, and save for later in the week, or freeze in 1 cup portions in freezer-weight bags. This way you always have some cooked chicken ready to go. If you have some cheese tortellini or ravioli in the freezer, you can have dinner on the table in 25 minutes (the only time consuming part is boiling water to heat the pasta!) This tortellini is one of my favorite quick recipes. You can toss some frozen veggies in there while the pasta is warming up as well!
You may be asking, can't I just get a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. Yes, yes you can. I do this often as well, but I like this when there's a sale, or I need chicken for other meals and carving a chicken just won't work!
Here are some great dishes that I often make using pre-cooked chicken.
One Pot Chicken Mudega Pasta Skillet
Chicken Picatta Pasta Toss
Creamy Lemon and Spinach Tortellini
Chicken Stuffed Twice Baked Potatoes
Chicken Cordon Bleu Risotto (or any risotto!)
Fettuccine Alfredo with Chicken
Chicken and Stuffing Casserole
Water (just enough to cover the chicken by about an inch)
Any fresh herbs you have around
Place chicken in a large enough pot, cover with water by an extra inch. Add carrots, celery, salt, peppercorns and any fresh herbs.
Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, until it starts to bubble around the edges of the pot. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer about 15 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
Remove chicken and allow to cool for a few minutes before chopping or shredding.
Meanwhile, strain the liquid in to a large bowl. Discard vegetables and herbs. Allow poaching liquid/broth to cool before storing in the fridge or freezer.