Our favorite Sunday activity in the fall doesn’t have anything to do with tailgating and pigskins. Instead, it has everything to do with cranking up the oven and slow roasting a plump whole chicken stuffed with herbovacious goodies.

And even though it’s now only early August, I am totally craving cozy sweaters and roast chickens. So lucky for me, our local grocery store sells rotisserie chickens all year-round for just $5 on Fridays. Five bucks! You can’t even buy a whole raw chicken for five bucks and we don’t have to heat up the kitchen for a quick dinner!

Of course with just the two of us in the house, we always have leftover chicken so I’m constantly trying to come up with ways to use up the leftovers. These chicken tacos with cilantro cream are a prime example of a perfect meal made with said leftovers…and actually, I bought the whole roaster with the intention of making two quick recipes (yielding about 4 meals or 8 servings) with it in the first place.

We attacked the first half of the chicken to use for some creamy baked chicken taquitos and the other half got shredded and stuck in the fridge for the next night (i.e., for these tacos). And oh goodness, these tacos!  A quick and fresh cilantro cream dressing that you’ll whip up in the blender lightly coats a bowlful of crunchy red cabbage, scallions, and just enough diced jalapeño to create a little kick. This cilantro-cabbage slaw will sit for just 15 minutes to allow the cabbage to soften just a wee bit and then you’ll add the shredded chicken, mound the mixture in some soft flour tortillas, and dive in.  The crunchy-soft contrasting textures of the thinly sliced red cabbage and the chicken and flour tortillas is really what makes these tacos so crave-worthy (aside from the creamy dressing, of course) and the cabbage has such a mild flavor when eaten raw that I strongly encourage all the skeptics out there to give it a chance.

What about the rest of the chicken, you ask? Well as my mom always says (insert best Forest Gump impression here), waste not want not! I freeze the bones from my roast/rotisserie chickens in a zipper bag until I have a second carcass and then I’ll make chicken stock (another post for another time). So from this one [$5] chicken, we’ve made two full recipes (yielding about 4 meals or 8 servings total) and the carcass will help to produce about 4 quarts of chicken stock in the near future.

It’s an amazing shortcut to be able to use whether you’ve got crazy-busy weeknights happening or it’s just too darn hot to cook. And if you want to pull out all the stops, try roasting your own chicken (autumnal Sundays are not required) – for the 10 minutes it takes to prep a whole chicken and the 1hr 20min (approximately) of downtime while it cooks, there is nothing more satisfying…except when you’re able to throw together amazing meals like this one with just a few leftovers!

Need some other ideas for using up leftover roast chicken?

[print_this]

Roast Chicken Soft Tacos with Cilantro Cream
source: adapted from Food and Wine Test Kitchens

This recipe works great with a fresh, hot rotisserie or homemade roast chicken or with one that has been cooked and refrigerated.  If your chicken is cold, place the shredded pieces in a microwave-safe bowl, cover with a damp paper towel, and heat for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, stirring halfway through, until the chicken is warmed but not overcooked and dry.  If you want to halve this recipe or use only white meat, two breasts from a rotisserie chicken yields plenty of shredded chicken (about 2 cups) for 3-4 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 3/4 cup sour cream, preferably reduced-fat
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small red cabbage (about 1 1/2 pounds), halved, cored and finely shredded
  • 1 small jalapeño, seeded and finely diced (or leave some of the seeds for extra heat)
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, shredded, skin and bones discarded or saved
  • 6-12 (8-inch) warm flour tortillas, for serving

Instructions:

  1. In a blender or the bowl of a food processor, add the cilantro, sour cream, lime juice and olive oil and purée until smooth, scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula as needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Transfer the cilantro cream to a large bowl and toss in the red cabbage, jalapeños, and scallions, coating everything well with the cilantro cream. Let the cabbage mixture stand at room temperature for 15 minutes, until the cabbage just begins to soften but still has a bit of crunch to it.
  3. Add the chicken to the bowl and with a pair of tongs, toss the chicken into the cabbage until it is well-coated with the cilantro cream. Season with salt and serve in warm tortillas.

Yields: 6-8 servings

[/print_this]

“This post is part of the BlogHer Leftover Makeovers editorial series. Our advertisers do not produce or review editorial content. This post is made possible by Bank of America and BlogHer.”

we love to see what you make!

tag what you make with #smellslikehomeblog on Instagram and follow my adventures in and out of the kitchen

@smellslikehomeblog
  • August 7, 2012 at 10:19 AM

    You had me at cilantro 🙂 I think whole roast chickens gets the short end of the stick. They’re so much better and more affordable per yield when you need “enchilada chicken.”

  • August 7, 2012 at 10:46 AM

    Oh my goodness, I’m with Shawnda, cilantro is my favorite! These look totally amazing.

  • August 7, 2012 at 3:48 PM

    I LOVE buying those rotisserie chickens, especially here in Phoenix where turning the oven on for two hours is really only a great option 4-5 months out of the year. Plus, I can freeze any unused chicken for soup, casseroles, baked pastas, or even enchiladas. Bonus!

    This recipe looks delicious!

  • August 7, 2012 at 7:45 PM

    Cilantro is one of my favorite flavors, and this looks just perfect. And because I’m very budget conscious, using the leftover chicken is a wonderful idea!!

  • August 7, 2012 at 9:28 PM

    mmm, we love making chicken tacos with roasted chicken! so yummy. i can’t wait to try this cilantro cream! yum!

  • August 8, 2012 at 10:17 AM

    Sounds yummy. I am always buying the chickens in the summer. Great way to use them. I can’t wait to roast my own when the heat subsides. I keep the carcasses and make soup. I save the turkey bones at Thanksgiving and freeze them for soup. My parents had 6 kids with one income, so nothing got wasted, and it is a skill of making stuff from every scrap that I am thankful for.

  • August 9, 2012 at 8:54 AM

    Oh my…cilantro cream! Mmmmm….

  • August 14, 2012 at 2:00 PM

    Tara,

    These tacos look sooooooo good, and I am sure our readers over at Mr. Food would be so into something like this. We’d love for you to submit a similar recipe to The Search for the Ultimate Weeknight Meal, offering a grand-prize to one lucky blogger who will tape a segment to air on national TV! If you’re interested, check out our contest page for more details.
    http://www.mrfood.com/Editors-Picks/Search-for-Ultimate-Weeknight-Meal-Blogger-Contest

    Alexis Franzi
    Editor, Mr. Food

Leave a Comment

You Might Also Like: