The Astonishing Allure of Thai Cooking Combined with the Irresistibly-priced Costco Rotisserie Chicken
I cannot seem to pass up Costco’s Rotisserie Chicken. At $4.99, I marvel at how it’s actually priced lower than its raw counterpart a few yards away in the store. But regardless of how it’s priced, it’s my mistake when I buy one on every Costco visit—especially those when there’s nobody home to share a chicken sandwich with. Inevitably, I have lots left over on my solitary visits to Bridgehampton. And fortunately, there are literally dozens of dishes that can make dinner a whole lot easier when you have rotisserie chicken on hand. This recipe proves that.
Thai food that’s remarkably flavorful and yet surprisingly low in calories
We love Thai food. It’s such a wonderful contrast of the spicy, the sweet and the sour. And Thai soups are perfect for making a meal because they combine more flavors and textures in a single bowl. This spicy soup recipe came from Cooking Light magazine so it’s very low in calories and fat—just 224 calories per serving. But oh my, what flavor! The Coconut milk is a great contrast to the spice: Sambal Oelek, ground fresh chili paste. Andrew and I love spicy food. So I upped the volume and doubled the quantity. But spice is not your thing, add the Sambal Qelek and taste, taste, taste as you go along. I also added even more Fish Sauce for which I have a passion ever since I went to Vietnam. And Vietnamese Fish Sauce, called Nu’ó’c Chãm, is known to be especially potent. This beautiful bowl of soup comes together in 32 minutes.
Why exactly does Costco sell Rotisserie Chicken when it “loses” so much money doing so?
If I love Costco Rotisserie Chicken, I am not alone. Costco is on the path to selling 100 million of them this year. It will come as no surprise that Rotisserie Chicken at 4.99 means Costco is losing $30 to $40 million a year selling them. So what’s the business model for that kind of loss? Quite simply, like me, buying a Costco chicken is ingrained behavior for millions of Costco’s members. So the chicken is all the way at the back of the store, past oceans of other temptations from Televisions to Living Room furniture. In preparing this article, a commenter on a news source wrote: “My mother went into Costco to buy a rotisserie chicken and left with a new Living Room Set”. On my most recent trip to Costco, I racked up a $178.00 tab. So much for how much was lost on the chicken.
Costco has gone into the Chicken Business in a great big way.
Costco started selling rotisserie chickens in 2009 at $4.99. All these years later, despite rising labor and preparation costs—even a bird flu epidemic—Costco not only hasn’t raised prices, but it’s also actually made a huge investment in a processing plant, a hatchery, and feed mill in Fremont, Nebraska. Costco likes to use the term “Farm-to-Table” to describe its operation. But somehow the phrase doesn’t seem to conjure up the same bucolic images when you’re talking about 2 million chickens a week. To make ourselves feel better, Nebraska’s grain farmers are struggling. Costco is offering 15-year contracts to up to 125 growers, thereby saving many a family farm. They’ll be keeping those 4.99 chickens coming for the foreseeable future. Here’s the recipe and after it, some other ways we’ve used Rotisserie chicken on Chewing The Fat.
Spicy Thai Coconut Chicken Soup
A terrific Thai recipe that highlights the delightful combination of sweet and sour and spice.
- 2 teaspoons canola oil
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms
- 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
- 1-2 inch long piece of ginger, cut into matchsticks
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 (3-inch) stalk lemongrass, halved lengthwise
- 2 teaspoons sambal oelek (ground fresh chile paste) or more to taste
- 3 cups Chicken Stock or fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
- 1 1/4 cups light coconut milk
- 4 teaspoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
- 2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (about 8 ounces)
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- Step 1 Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add oil to the pan, swirl to coat
- Step 2 Add mushrooms and the next 4 ingredients (through lemongrass)
- Step 3 Cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chile paste. cook 1 minute. Adjust seasoning to taste
- Step 4 Add Chicken Stock, coconut milk, fish sauce, and sugar (if using)
- Step 5 Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes
- Step 6 Add chicken to pan. cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Discard lemongrass. Top with cilantro, and lime juice.