4 Surprising Things You Can Do With Fast Food Fried Chicken

Yes, you can use it to make a totally different meal.

IMAGE Aldwin Aspillera

What's not to love about fried chicken? Whether you're into dark meat or white meat, there can be little doubt that a piece of fried chicken-served with some mashed potatoes and gravy-is a satisfying and comforting meal.

Unfortunately, the quality of a piece of fried chicken tends to fade fairly quickly, with last night's delightful meal of warm, crispy goodness suddenly having turned into today's unappetizing, greasy mess. While refrying or baking the pieces of chicken is an option, don't expect to fully recreate the fresh-out-of-the-fryer experience with a reheated piece of chicken. So what do you do with them? 

Here are some ideas that you can try to save whatever's left of the previous night's chicken feast.

Photo by Patrick Martires
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Turn It into a Fried Chicken Sandwich

If you bought more chicken than you needed, chances are, you have entire untouched pieces just sitting in the refrigerator. While these may be great candidates for reheating by baking or refrying, you do have some other, less conventional alternatives available to you such as stripping the meat from the bones and turning it into fried chicken sandwiches.

To do this, use your hands to remove the chicken meat from the bones but try not to break them up too much. You want to keep the meat intact to preserve the fullness of biting into it when it's in your sandwich. Once you've removed as much of the meat as you can, prepare your bread of choice. You're free to use burger buns, hotdog buns, white bread, or basically whatever you have on hand! Pan de sal is a good option as well and allows you to make mini fried chicken sliders.

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Top off your sandwich with whatever you wish, whether you want some freshness and juiciness from a bit of lettuce and sliced tomato, or some zestiness from a slathering of your favorite barbecue sauce. Here's a sandwich maker's secret: try toasting your bread in a nonstick skillet over medium heat, with some mayonnaise applied to the side of the bread that's in contact with the pan. 

Photo by David Hanson | Styling & Food Preparation by Sharlene Tan
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Shred It for Chicken Salad

Making a chicken salad is a great way to deal with leftover fried chicken that's been kept whole, but cut-up chicken parts can be used as well. Again, you'll be using your hands to really get at the chicken meat, but this time, feel free to shred the chicken pieces as much as you like. You can tear the pieces apart easily by following the muscle threads and turning them into fibers like floss. Alternatively, using a knife, you can slice up the larger pieces into chunks to keep the full and satisfying feeling of biting into them.

Either way, once you've prepared your chicken, it's time to choose your dressing. Some people might prefer the simplicity and richness of some mayonnaise, while others who prefer some tanginess might go with something like ranch or thousand island dressing. Whichever you choose, be generous with the dressing! Day-old chicken tends to dry out a bit, making it very absorbent to moisture and giving the chicken full flavor from the dressing as a result. 

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This is great as a sandwich filling, but if you're keeping off the carbs, just spoon it onto a bed of lettuce and add in some chopped walnuts and apple chunks for a classic chicken Waldorf salad. 

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Refry the Skin for a No-Carb Snack

While the likelihood of having leftover chicken skin is probably pretty low, figuring out what to do with it when you do have some can be kind of tricky. Fortunately, chicken skin is so laden with fat and moisture that it's one of the few parts of the chicken that stands up well to refrying. Over medium-high heat, preheat a saucepan with around two inches of oil. Then lower the pieces slowly and gently into the oil once it's hot. To check whether your oil is hot enough, take a small piece of skin and place it in the saucepan. If it floats, you're good to go. Fry the pieces for around 15 to 30 seconds to prevent them from burning.

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After frying, leave the skins on a bed of paper towels before seasoning them with salt, pepper, and some red chilli powder if you like heat. Then serve them with a vinegar dip!

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Turn the Bones and Trimmings Into Chicken Stock

If, after your chicken feast, all that's left is bones and the bucket the restaurant used to send you your food, you don't have to be done with your bird just yet. Make some stock! Put the bones and whatever's left into a deep pot, cover them with water, and bring the pot to a boil over medium high heat. Once your pot is boiling, turn down the heat to low and let the warm water extract all the leftover chicken essence left in the bones. You might notice some gray substances floating to the surface, especially after turning the heat down. Just slough off that stuff and toss it out as it won't taste very good. 

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You may also want to include aromatics such as onions or garlic, or the leavings and skins of vegetables like carrots or radishes, into your stock. Just make sure they're free of dirt before tossing them in. Once you're done preparing your stock, allow it to simmer for about an hour before turning off the heat and putting it away. Chicken stock is a great way to start off most soups, stews, and braises, and it adds depth and complexity to risotto or arroz caldo.

Don't let that fried chicken go to waste! Your next great food discovery could be waiting for you in the box in your fridge, so try these suggestions out today.

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