The barbecue chook: it's synonymous with picnics in the park, family gatherings and lazy weeknight meals. Get inspired this summer and think outside the 'chicken and chips' box to see what can be done with a roast chicken. Here, top chefs share tips on taking the humble bird to the next level, and show you how to turn it into a fully fledged flock-star.
Lennox Hastie creates a menu that draws on wood and flames at his Sydney restaurant, Firedoor. Photo: Christopher Pearce
1. Lennox Hastie's leftover chicken salad
When he's not playing with fire and needs a quick meal fix, Firedoor head chef Lennox Hastie enjoys nothing more than throwing together a simple salad. The fresh crunch of the vegetables and vibrancy of the dressing in this recipe pairs wonderfully with leftover chicken. For added texture, Lennox likes to fry the skin from the chook, adding it to shallots for extra crunch. But the great thing is it doesn't matter how much meat you have, as this salad is just as good on its own – making it both economical and tasty.
Roast chicken, torn or shredded into strips, skin reserved separately
1 carrot, cut into fine batons
100g snap peas, finely sliced
1 cucumber, peeled, deseeded and cut into small batons
3 spring onions chopped
200g cabbage shredded
½ bunch fresh mint torn
½ bunch thai basil torn
½ bunch coriander torn
2 shallots, finely sliced
50g unsalted roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
50ml peanut oil
20g young ginger root cut into thin strips
1 clove garlic minced
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp brown sugar
zest and juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 red chilli (as hot as you like), minced
1. Combine all the dressing ingredients and mix well to ensure the sugar is dissolved.
2. Fry the shallots and the chicken skin in the peanut oil until crispy and drain.
3. In a large bowl mix all the salad ingredients together.
4. Add the dressing to the salad, mixing thoroughly to combine all the beautiful flavours. Add the chicken.
5. Top the salad with the crispy shallot, chicken skin, and roasted peanuts and serve immediately.
Ben Greeno preparing roast chicken at The Paddington. Photo: Michele Mossop
2. Ben Greeno's ultimate chook BLT
The chef, who is known for working his magic with roast chooks at The Paddington, shares his off-duty go-to: an indulgent take on the BLT.
1 cos lettuce
4 tomatoes, blanched, skin removed
1 barbecue chicken
300g boks streaky bacon
4 eggs boiled for eight minutes
50g kewpie mayonnaise
Loaf white bread- sliced lengthwise instead of width for each sandwich you need 3 pieces
1. Wash and dry the lettuce, slice the tomatoes and place in paper towel to absorb any water.
2. Pull the chicken off the carcass and set aside.
3. Grill the bacon to a crisp and slice the eggs (preferably with an egg slicer).
4. Butter the bread and lightly toast under the grill.
5. To assemble the sandwich, spread 2 pieces of the bread with mayo then add tomatoes, sliced eggs, chicken, lettuce, then bacon.
6. Put one layer on top of the other, then add the final layer of bread, spread with mayo one side.
7. Hold in place with cocktail sticks and cut with a sharp bread knife (Ben uses an electric knife).
Chef Ross Lusted at his restaurant, The Bridge Room. Photo: Louise Kennerley
3. Ross Lusted's cold roast chicken, herb and salted duck egg salad
The Bridge Room's Ross Lusted turns a simple roast chook into a showstopper. This is the perfect plate for entertaining this summer, and for using up any leftovers.
200g cold roast chicken
60g tin croutons cooked in butter
40g chopped pistachio nuts
60g salted duck egg mayonnaise
1 bunch flat leaf parsley – finely sliced not chopped
1 bunch chervil - chopped
1 bunch chives – finely sliced
Duck egg mayonnaise
30ml rice wine vinegar
30ml Japanese soy sauce
150ml peanut oil
150ml vegetable oil
2 hard boiled salted duck eggs
2 egg yolks
Combine the egg yolks with the vinegar and soy sauce. Whisk in the oils slowly to for an emulsion, once the mayonnaise in thick add the cooked, salted duck eggs.
1. Chop the cold chicken into small pieces and combine with the croutons cooked in butter until golden.
2. Add the pistachios and slowly mix in the mayonnaise to form a mix that can be rolled into a 20 cent size ball, once the balls are formed, refrigerate.
3. When you are ready to serve, roll the balls in the herb salad and serve.
4. Ross Lusted's roast chicken, Chonkiang vinegar and koshihikari rice salad
This is a wonderful warm salad for summer. It's delicate and light and made to be served with a bowl of steamed fragrant koshihikari rice.
Cold roasted chicken
Cold silken tofu
Green shallot julienne
Roasted sesame seeds
Chinkiang vinegar dressing (see below)
Chinkiang vinegar dressing
150ml peanut oil
10ml sesame oil
Deep fried garlic
60ml Chinkiang vinegar
1 green shallot smashed
1 clove garlic smashed
1 knob ginger smashed
Combine all the ingredients in a bottle and shake well
1. Shred the chicken and place in a serving bowl.
2. Break over several pieces of silken tofu, cut the cucumber into ribbons on a mandolin and lay over the tofu.
3. Finish the salad with all the other ingredients to your taste and dress with the Chinkiang vinegar dressing.
4. Serve with the steamed rice dusted in deep-fried garlic.
Richard Ptacnik is the head chef at the wharfside one-hat restaurant Otto. Photo: Marco Del Grande
5. Richard Ptacnik's Italian barbecue chicken salad
Otto's Richard Ptacnik's favourite way to use a barbecue chook at this time of year is to throw it in a salad along with sweet grilled peaches, creamy buffalo mozzarella, and salty prosciutto. This Italian-style salad epitomises summer to Richard, and shows that by choosing fresh, seasonal ingredients, you can create a memorable dish in no time.
Extra virgin olive oil
Roast chook, shredded
Mixed salad leaves
Aged balsamic vinegar
1. Cut the peaches into wedges and lightly brushes with olive oil, grill peaches on a hot grill until browned.
2. Shred the chicken and buffalo mozzarella, and then toss with mixed lettuce and arrange on a plate with prosciutto and grilled peaches.
3. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and finish off with some aged balsamic.
David Lovett is the chef at Beach Byron Bay. Photo: Petrina Tinslay
6. David Lovett's barbecue chook and chorizo jambalaya
Via the kitchen at Beach Byron Bay, David Lovett spices things up with a hearty, Creole dish that can feed the whole family. Putting every bit of a store-bought chook to good use, it'll be kind of soupy, but totally delicious! It's time to turn up the heat.
2 tbsp olive oil
1 whole barbecue chook
3 good-quality smoked chorizo, cut into rounds
1 red onion
2 red capsicum
2 celery sticks
5 garlic clove
700g ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
3 green chilli cut into rounds
1.2 litres hot water
3 bay leaves
350g long grain rice
Salt and pepper
Hot sauce to serve
1. Peel and roughly chop all your veggies, but keep the skins and trim of the garlic, onion and celery.
2. Pick all the meat off your bird, leaving it all in good sized chunks.
3. Pop the bones into a pot with the 1.2 liters of hot water, pinch of salt, garlic, celery and onion trim and peels and bring to a boil.
4. While your stock is bubbling away, put your oil into a good sized pot, add the chorizo and turn the heat up to medium.
5. Gently fry the chorizo so the fat renders and it begins to colour a little.
6. Add your garlic and onion and fry and stir for five to eight minutes.
7. Add your celery, chilli, capsicum and bay and fry for a further five to eight minutes stirring every now and then until everything is starting to soften but not colour.
8. Now throw in your rice and give it a fry and a stir for two to three minutes, season with some salt and pepper.
9. Add your tomatoes and chicken pieces, give a mix to combined.
10. Strain your stock into the chicken, veg and chorizo pot and bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer, stirring from time to time so as it won't stick to the bottom of the pot.
11. Simmer for around 15 to 20 minutes or until the rice is cooked it resembles a chunky, slightly wet risotto.
12. Adjust seasoning if needed, serve in the middle of the table with bowls and a bottle of hot sauce.
Chef Alex Kearns can be found at Glebe Point Diner. Photo: Edwina Pickles
7. Alex Kearns' barbecue chook banh mi
Back in the kitchen at Glebe Point Diner, Alex Kearns shares his love of using it all by spreading the stuffing from his roast chook onto his baguette for added depth of flavour. The scent from the heart and liver off the stuffing adds a meaty richness to his rolls, enhanced by the pickled chillies for a subtle kick.
Shredded chook (Alex prefers the leg meat)
Finely sliced carrot
Finely sliced cucumber
Finely sliced white onion
Maggi seasoning or soy sauce
1. Season shredded chook meat with maggi seasoning before adding to the baguette.
2. Build your roll, mayo on one side and stuffing on the other.
3. Add in as much of the finely sliced ingredients as you like, then top with coriander and pickled chilli
8. Two Country Cooks' Japanese-inspired omelette
From their table in the charming Southern Highlands to yours, Ally Dawson and Paul Zbrog share their favourite ways to make use of a barbecue chook. They use as much as they can from their own garden and these resulting recipes are pure comfort.
¼ cup each of hoisin sauce and satay sauce
2 cups finely shredded cabbage
1 grated carrot
2 shallots, trimmed and sliced
1 tbsp shredded coriander
¼ tsp white pepper
1 cup shredded barbecue chicken
5 eggs, beaten with 1½ tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp peanut oil
¼ cup pickled ginger
*Sliced hot chilli optional
1. Combine sauces together, stirring in ¼ cup of hot water then set aside.
2. In a wok or frypan heated to med-high, add the peanut oil, cabbage and carrot to combine and cover, allow to soften for two minutes then add chicken, 2/3 shallots, coriander, pepper and cook for one minute.
3. Reduce heat to med-low, then pour in egg mixture, folding through, and allow to cook until just firm.
4. Flip over and cook for a further 30 seconds, then fold in half and place onto a platter.
5. Drizzle sauce over omelette and garnish with reserved shallots and chilli, if desired.
9. Two Country Cooks' barbecue chicken salad with grilled mangoes and Thai dressing
1 cup of fresh coriander
1 cup of fresh mint
1 cup of mini Roma tomatoes halved
1/2 cup of thinly Spanish onions
4 mango cheeks
Shredded meat of 1 barbecue chicken
Lime wedge to serve
1/3 cup of fresh lime juice
1 long red chilli thinly sliced
2 tsp of palm sugar
2 tsp of fish sauce
1 tsp of grated ginger
1. Preheat griddle to a medium heat.
2. Place all the dressing ingredients in a jar and shake well to combine.
3. Mix coriander, mint, tomatoes and Spanish onions in a bowl and dress, toss to combine.
4. Once components are prepared, grill mango cheeks cut side down for two minutes until the natural sugars are caramelised and turn to create a criss-cross pattern.
5. To serve, place a mango cheek on each plate. Evenly distribute the shredded chicken on the mango and top with salad and lime wedge to serve.