“Put another BBQ chicken on the barbie,” said our Australian friend John as he downed another bottle of Bud Light with Lime. “You can never have too much barbecued chicken in the house, me Mum always said.”
John’s mother was probably right. The lovely flavor of slightly seared BBQ chicken, with all the fat up in flames, is one of my favorite tastes in barbecue fare. John’s demand for cooking another BBQ chicken probably stemmed from his devouring a half BBQ chicken in a few minutes and a desperation that we would run out of BBQ chicken before his appetite was satiated.
At the end of the evening, we had cooked 6 whole BBQ chickens and eaten 2 whole cooked BBQ chickens. That’s a lot of leftover BBQ chicken to contend with. As I contemplated the consequences of too much BBQ chicken, my mind began to formulate various ways to use excessive BBQ chicken leftovers. The result as follows is my list of 11 ways with BBQ chicken:
1. BBQ Chicken Pieces
Obvious, but try a piece dipped in aioli (garlic mayonnaise sauce) and experience divine dining, maybe with a little tabbouleh salad and pita bread on the side.
2. BBQ Chicken Burritos/Wraps
Grab some flour tortillas, add shredded cheese, shredded lettuce, chopped cilantro, chopped fresh tomatoes, and chopped chicken topped with a favorite sweet barbecue sauce. Voila, a dish fit for no less than a Mayan king. Zap in the microwave if you’re in a hurry, or grill in a frying pan to make a crispy tortilla exterior.
3. BBQ Chicken Sandwiches
Ho hum, but a great mainstay if excess BBQ chicken is on hand. Slice whole chicken breast into even pieces and schmear regular or small hamburger buns with a favorite smoky barbecue sauce. A little leftover cole slaw on the bun makes it all slide down easier.
4. BBQ Chicken Salad
Open a bag of your favorite prepared salad greens and place a large handful in a decent-sized bowl. Shred or chop BBQ chicken meat off the bone and mix it with equal portions of barbecue sauce and ranch dressing. Mix well and add a squeeze of fresh lime juice and salt. Spoon onto salad and drizzle with more ranch dressing. Pretty tasty with Texas Toast.
5. BBQ Chicken Soup/Stew
This comforting dish is great to make when you’ve removed most of the meat off the BBQ chicken bones. In a soup or stew pot, add 2 quarts of water and any chicken bones left from trimming the meat (please, not the bones you’ve gnawed, yuck). Boil until the chicken falls off the bones. Let broth cool, pick off any remaining meat, and discard the bones. Add carrots, leeks, sliced potatoes, celery, onions, and any other preferred root vegetables. Add some pasta or rice, too. You can make it thin for soup or thick for stew, depending upon the amount of starch you add. Just before serving, stir in a tablespoon of tangy barbecue sauce per serving. French bread and Irish butter make this soup or stew special.
6. BBQ Chicken Pasta
This one is easy. Add stripped or shredded chicken to any kind of hot cooked pasta/noodles. Top with a favorite barbecue sauce and stir.
7. BBQ Chicken Casserole
An old standby. Combine chicken pieces, canned mixed vegetables, and crumbled Ritz-style crackers with canned cream of mushroom soup. After heating, top with a drizzle of barbecue sauce and swirl.
8. BBQ Chicken Stir Fry
Because the chicken is already cooked, you’ll want to concentrate on preparing the vegetables first, and then add the chicken at the last minute. Try sautéing julienned carrots, chopped green onions, broccoli florets, sliced squash, crushed garlic, and shredded onion together until just soft. Add cooked chicken pieces and sweet barbecue sauce tempered with a little soy sauce. Serve over rice or crisp chow mein noodles.
9. BBQ Chicken Baked Potatoes
Mix chopped BBQ chicken meat with barbecue sauce and stuff into baked potatoes. Top with sour cream or Monterey Jack cheese. Simple but effective.
10. BBQ Chicken Pot Pie
It’s not exactly the cooler time of year for a savory chicken pot pie, but I guess any time of year is good for using up extra BBQ chicken. Make a nice buttery pie crust using your favorite recipe (or cheat with a frozen crust if your time is short). Add diced canned potatoes, carrots, peas, and chopped chicken. Top filling with a sauce made by combining barbecue sauce with sour cream, salt, pepper and sliced canned mushrooms. The sauce should be on the darker side for better flavor. Bake according to pie crust instructions. Cut and enjoy with a crisp salad.
11. BBQ Chicken Pizza
Taking a cue from a pizza chain’s signature dish, start with a good pizza crust dough (whether homemade or store-bought) stretched to fit a pizza pan. Smear dough with a favorite barbecue sauce, then topped with slices of smoked Gouda and mozzarella cheeses, chunks of BBQ chicken, sliced red onions, and chopped cilantro. For a decadent touch, I sometimes add chopped cooked bacon. Yum.
There are probably many more combinations that might be lurking in my family cookbook, but the above ways with BBQ chicken were off the top of my head, so to speak. Just so you know, I decided to freeze several of the extra BBQ chickens for later use.