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One Baked Chicken, Three Dinners

Oven-baked ranch chicken is the ultimate comfort food. With only six ingredients and five minutes of prep time, it’s a simple, hands-off dish that bakes itself in about an hour. Serve it for dinner with roasted potatoes and any veggies you have on hand. With the leftovers, you can create two more easy meals: chicken salad and chicken soup. Turn leftover chicken into shreds for a cold salad or boil the carcass with water and aromatics to make a chicken stock that will be the base to countless soups. Check out these recipes for some salads and soups we love.

Leftover Chicken Salad

Chicken salad is nothing more than a tasty dressing and leftover chicken coming together. Scooped into lettuce wraps, atop greens, tucked into a sandwich, or with a fork straight from the bowl, chicken salad always hits the spot. It’s convenient to make ahead of time, and will conveniently keep a couple of days in the fridge.

You can make delicious chicken salad with items you probably already have in your fridge and pantry. The essentials are roughly chopped chicken and a sturdy dressing. The dressing acts as the “glue” to bind your salad together. You’ll need a substantial dollop of fat (mayonnaise, full fat yogurt or sour cream all work), a bit of mustard (dijon or classic yellow), a glug of olive oil, splash of vinegar, salt and pepper. After combining the dressing with chicken, you can add flavor and texture enhancers: a little crunch with chopped nuts or celery, sharpness with a little red onion or shallot, sweetness from dried fruit, or a subtle tang with fresh herbs like dill or parsley. Ingredients can vary depending on what you like, and what you have in the pantry. Feel free to swap ingredients in and out as you please. It will all work out, as chicken salad is very forgiving. Just remember to taste as you go to stay on the right track.

Here are a few great recipes to inspire your next chicken salad adventure:

  1. 1

    Chicken Salad

  2. 2

    Napa Chicken Salad

  3. 3

    Buffalo Chicken Salad

  4. 4

    Ranch Chicken Salad

Simple Chicken Stock

Stock is another way to use up the last of that Baked Chicken you made a couple nights ago.

Homemade chicken stock is easy to make, and packs much more flavor than the store-bought stuff. You can freeze stock for later use, or add a few veggies, beans or noodles for a quick, cozy soup. Once you learn the flexible technique of making stock, you’ll always be able to put the last of your roast chicken to good use.

The essentials of stock are a cinch to master. Once you get the hang of it, there are endless modifications you can make. More than a recipe, it’s a foolproof technique with lots of room for improvisation. Stock is a great way to use up vegetables and herbs that are on their way out. If a piece of celery, carrot, or nub of garlic look a little past prime, it’s OK — it’s perfect for your stock.

All you need is a leftover chicken carcass and chicken bones, an onion, and any bits and bobs of vegetables you have floating in your fridge drawer. Add it all to a large pot, cover with water (just an inch above all your ingredients), bring to a boil, then simmer, partially covered for 4–6 hours. Season with salt and pepper. You can continue to reduce for another hour or two if you want your flavors more concentrated. Strain through a fine sieve, discard the aromatics, and use as needed.

Here are a few Hidden Valley® Ranch Soups that would be great with homemade chicken stock:

  1. 1

    Loaded Baked Potato Chicken Soup with Ranch

  2. 2

    Mushroom Soup with Ranch Cream

  3. 3

    Chicken Pot Pie Soup

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