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Eric Akis: Rotisserie chicken reimagined with a Tex-Mex twist

Rice bowls are topped, Tex-Mex-style, with pieces of chicken, beans, cheese, corn, salsa and other ingredients. The result is a colourful, filling, summer meal you could serve with tortilla chips.
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Tex-Mex-style chicken bowl, with rice, beans, corn and salsa. ERIC AKIS

Despite my professional culinary training I will, from time to time and like many other home cooks, purchase convenient, ready-to-eat items at the grocery store. One of my favourites is a hot, whole, rotisserie/barbecue chicken.

Sometimes I’ll simply serve the chicken with a salad and some rolls. Other times I let the chicken be the lead player in a more fanciful dish, which is what I did in several chapters of my 2015 book, The Great Rotisserie Chicken Cookbook.

In that book I used rotisserie chicken, cut in various ways, in a range of recipes for such things as starters, soups, pasta, sandwiches, stews, curries and other creations. And, after that book was published, I didn’t stop coming up with other ways to use rotisserie chicken, including today’s recipe for Tex-Mex rotisserie chicken bowls.

To make it, a hot rotisserie chicken was cut into portions, set in shallow serving bowls filled with rice, and accompanied with Tex-Mex-style tastes such as salsa, corn, black beans, cilantro and tangy cheese. The end result is a colourful, filling, summer meal you could serve with tortilla chips for scooping up some of the items in the bowl.

Tex-Mex Rotisserie Chicken Bowls

Rice bowls topped, Tex-Mex-style, with pieces of chicken, beans, cheese, corn, salsa and other ingredients.

Preparation time: 45 minutes

Cooking time: About 18 to 35 minutes (to cook the rice)

Makes: four servings

4 cups hot cooked long grain white or brown rice

1 hot, store-bought rotisserie/barbecue chicken, cut into 12 pieces (see Note and Eric’s options)

1 small to medium ripe avocado, quartered lengthwise, pulled apart, pitted, peeled and cut into small cubes

1 1/3 cups fresh or frozen (thawed) corn kernels

16 cherry tomatoes, each halved

1 (14 oz./398 mL) can black beans, drained, rinsed, and drained again

1 cup grated cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, or to taste

1 1/3 cups store-bought or homemade tomato salsa, or to taste

1/2 cup sour cream, or to taste

1 medium jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced (optional)

8 lime slices

• cilantro sprigs, to taste, for garnish

• tortilla chips, to taste, for dunking

• hot pepper sauce, such as Tabasco, to taste (optional)

Divide rice between four shallow serving bowls. Divide and set some chicken on one side of each bowl. Now set some of the avocado, corn, tomatoes, beans, cheese, salsa, sour cream and jalapeño, if using, on the rice around the chicken. Garnish each bowl with cilantro sprigs and lime slices. Serve the bowls with tortilla chips and, if desired, hot pepper sauce, for drizzling on at the table.

Note: To cut a cooked chicken into 12 pieces, set it on a cutting board, breast side up. Bend one of the legs away from the body until the thighbone unhinges from it. Use a sharp, thin-bladed knife to remove the leg, cutting through the separated joint. Repeat these steps to remove the other leg. Cut each leg into drumstick and thigh pieces, set them on a large plate and keep warm in a 200 F oven.

Starting at the tail end, remove one side of the breast from the body by cutting along the breastbone. When you reach the wishbone, situated just above the wing, cut down along it, toward the wing, and remove the breast meat. Repeat this cut on the other side of the chicken. Cut each breast, widthwise, into two pieces and set them on the plate, too.

Cut each wing off the carcass, by slicing through the joint that connects the wing to the lower part of the breast. Split each wing into two pieces, cutting between the drummette, the part of the wing that was attached the breast, and the wingette, the middle portion of the wing. Set the wing pieces on the plate and the chicken is ready to use for the bowls. Save the chicken carcass to make chicken stock.

Eric’s options: You can buy the hot, cooked, store-bought chicken many hours before needed, cut it into portions, set them on a non-stick baking sheet, let them cool, and then refrigerate them until needed. When needed for the bowls, pop the baking sheet into a 350 F oven for 20 minutes or so, or until chicken is hot.

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Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.