While developing recipes for using rotisserie chicken meat in a range of dishes, Eric Akis took into consideration the diverse palates of Canadians.
"They like international tastes, but they also like good old comfort food, so I've got anything from mac and cheese with chicken and peas, which would be great for a Tuesday supper, but then I've also done a Vietnamese-style chicken and rice noodle salad," he says.
"That's for those people that like Asian food and there's a lot of us, even if you're not Asian."
He also includes a section in his eighth cookbook, "The Great Rotisserie Chicken Cookbook," on side dishes to serve with rotisserie chicken.
"I think a lot of people still want to make some element of the meal, so whether they've made their own chicken or bought one, they still want to do that side dish to serve with it, rather than get that bag of coleslaw. It just makes the meal like you've done something for supper."
Here are two recipes from the book using rotisserie chicken as an ingredient.
CHICKEN, AVOCADO AND TOMATO MELTS
This recipe is really simple. The sumptuous melts can be served with a simple green salad and a glass of lemonade or iced tea.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
10 ml (2 tsp) lime juice
1 medium ripe avocado
4 slices French bread, each 2.5 cm (1 inch) thick
60 ml (4 tbsp) mayonnaise
375 ml (1 1/2 cups) baby arugula or spinach
8 slices ripe tomato
325 ml (1 1/3 cups) shredded rotisserie chicken meat
250 ml (1 cup) grated plain or jalapeno-flavoured Monterey Jack cheese
50 ml (1/4 cup) coarsely chopped fresh cilantro or green onions
Preheat oven to 220 C (425 F). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour lime juice onto a wide plate.
Quarter avocado lengthwise, pull it apart, and discard pit. Remove peel from avocado. Cut each quarter piece of avocado lengthwise into 3 slices. Set avocado on plate and coat with lime juice.
Spread mayonnaise on one side of each slice of bread and arrange on baking sheet. Top each slice with arugula, 2 slices of tomato, 3 slices of avocado and 75 ml (1/3 cup) of the chicken. Sprinkle with cheese.
Bake for 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bottom of bread is lightly toasted. Garnish with cilantro and serve.
Makes 4 servings.
SALAD GREENS WITH CHICKEN, GRAPEFRUIT, CRANBERRIES AND HEMP HEART DRESSING
This light and refreshing main-course salad is stunning to look at, thanks to its colourful ingredients. Better yet, its citrus dressing is enhanced with hemp hearts, which give it a slightly nutty flavour and a healthy dose of essential fatty acids, protein and fibre.
Look for hemp hearts — shelled hemp seeds about the size of sesame seeds — at health food stores and some supermarkets. If you can't find them, use lightly toasted sesame seeds.
Prep time: 20 minutes
50 ml (1/4 cup) plain thick yogurt
30 ml (2 tbsp) orange juice
30 ml (2 tbsp) grapefruit juice
10 ml (2 tsp) honey
10 ml (2 tsp) Dijon mustard
Pinch dried tarragon
15 ml (1 tbsp) hemp hearts
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 small to medium red grapefruit
2 l (8 cups) mixed baby salad greens
375 to 500 ml (1 1/2 to 2 cups) shredded rotisserie chicken meat
75 ml (1/3 cup) dried cranberries
75 ml (1/3 cup) grated carrots
Dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together yogurt, orange juice, grapefruit juice, honey, mustard, tarragon and hemp hearts until well combined. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate dressing until needed. It can be made several hours in advance.
Salad: Using a sharp paring knife, cut and discard a thin slice from blossom and bottom ends of one grapefruit, then set it, one of the cut sides down, on a clean work surface. Following curved contour of fruit, carefully cut off and discard peel and pith.
Cut grapefruit in half vertically, then very carefully cut each half into thin slices. Repeat with second grapefruit.
Arrange slices around perimeter of 4 plates. Mound 1/4 of the salad greens in centre of each plate, then top with chicken, cranberries and carrots. Drizzle with dressing and serve.
Makes 4 servings.
Source: "The Great Rotisserie Chicken Cookbook: More Than 100 Delicious Ways to Enjoy Storebought and Homecooked Chicken" by Eric Akis (Appetite by Random House, 2015).