Chicken enchiladas made from a leftover roast. Credit: Sandy Oliver

We asked, “What do you do with your leftovers?” and Beth Chamberlain sent along advice about roast chicken.

“When I roast a chicken, I will get a couple of traditional meals, with stuffing, mashed potato, gravy, veggies, cranberry sauce,” Beth wrote. “Then gobbler sandwiches, only made with the chicken not turkey.”

Wouldn’t that be “clucker” sandwiches? She didn’t say so, but those sandwiches could be cold, sliced chicken with bread, lettuce, mayonnaise or salad dressing; or chicken salad chopped with celery and onion; or a hot,  open-faced sandwich with gravy.

“Next would be Chicken Enchiladas.” Now that’s a good idea, a way to make the chicken taste really differently and downplay the leftover aspect of it.

“Lastly,” she said, “I would make a chicken soup. I will make a bone broth from the carcass and then make soup.”

What goes into it depends, she said, on what she has on hand or in the freezer.

“I usually start with one-quarter cup brown rice and one-quarter cup barley in the broth and cook this for about 20 minutes and then take it from there.”

Personally, I like celery, onion and carrots in chicken soup, plus whatever bits of meat might be left.

Even a small rotisserie chicken that you pick up on the way home from work can make three meals for two people using Beth’s program: supper with the fixings, then sandwiches and then soup. At the least, you can squeeze two meals out of one if you do soup.

Nobody says you can’t toss the carcass in the freezer until later when you can make time, or even add another carcass for a bigger batch of soup. I suppose the trick is to remember you have the soup makings in the freezer.

I thought I’d like to try the enchiladas, and Beth obliged with the recipe she’s had for years, which she found on a package of sour cream.

“If I do not have the two cups of leftover chicken the recipe calls for, I will supplement with black beans to make up the difference,” she wrote.

What a good idea that is.

“Just add black beans to make the enchiladas heartier,” she said. “If you do this, you will need to add a little more sour cream and salsa.”

It might be worth setting aside one cup of chicken to save for soup and substituting black beans in the enchiladas.

If you like your Tex-Mex dishes with heat then you’ll want to pick a salsa on the hot side, or add red pepper to the filling mix. Small flour tortillas are best, though corn tortillas also work if you are avoiding gluten.

Spread the topping over the whole panful or garnish each enchilada separately.

“These are so good and easy. Make a double batch as they freeze well,” Beth further advised, for good measure.

Homemade fast food!

Beth’s Chicken Enchiladas

Serves 6


2 cups chopped cooked chicken or combination of chicken and black beans.

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup salsa

1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1 teaspoon ground cumin

10 small flour tortillas


3/4 cup salsa

1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1/2 cup sour cream

1 cup shredded lettuce

1 tomato chopped 

Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly grease a 9×13 baking dish.

Combine chicken, 1 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup salsa, 1 cup shredded cheese, cilantro and cumin.

Spoon about 1/4 cup of chicken mixture down the center of each tortilla, roll up and place seam side down in the baking dish.

Spread the top with the rest of the sour cream and salsa. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the foil and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the enchiladas and bake uncovered about 5 minutes to melt the cheese.

Distribute the chopped lettuce, and tomato over the enchiladas, and serve.

Avatar photo

Sandy Oliver, Taste Buds

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working...