Main dish

Roast chicken with bacon, tomatoes, and green chiles

Roast chicken with bacon, tomatoes, and green chiles | Homesick Texan

My friends keep telling me I should get an Instant Pot. They sing its praised though I’m still not convinced. This is mainly because I have little room in my New York apartment to store it, but also because I’ve heard conflicting reports on its overall effectiveness. That said, its popularity speaks to people wanting a nutritious, home-cooked meal that can be prepared with little time and ease, and I totally get that. In my arsenal, I also have a handful of go-to recipes that I can make in an hour or so with just a single pot or two.

One such dish is my roast chicken with bacon, tomatoes, and green chiles. There are, of course, infinite ways to roast a chicken (and my first two books both have a recipe), though this version, which has been in heavy rotation at my house lately, is based on two recipes that I found while diving into Texas periodicals from the early 1900s.

The first was from a 1912 newspaper article, and it featured a whole butterflied chicken baked with tomatoes and green peppers. As I read it, I imagined the piquant tomato and pepper gravy would be a tangy complement to the chicken. Then I found in a 1947 El Paso cookbook a chicken seasoned with red chile powder before being cooked with tomatoes and bacon. This one also had long green chiles, though they were served on the side.

Roast chicken with bacon, tomatoes, and green chiles | Homesick Texan

Taking the two recipes, I cobbled together a method. First, I sizzled some bacon in a large skillet, then threw in onions and garlic to the rendered fat. For the tomatoes, I poured in a can of diced tomatoes with green chiles and all its juices. Finally, I added a butterflied chicken generously seasoned with salt, pepper, oregano, cumin, and New Mexican red chile powder.

After sliding the skillet into the oven, my kitchen was soon filled with an inviting, savory aroma. Fifty minutes passed, and I pulled the chicken out of the oven. The skin was brown and crisp and underneath the chicken bubbled a shimmering gravy studded with the tomatoes, aromatics, and bacon. I dipped in a spoon to take a sip and it was savory, smoky, and luscious without being too rich.

As the chicken cooled, I picked off pieces of the spicy, crackling skin. Then I cut the chicken into pieces and served it with the tomato pan gravy and fluffy white rice. The chicken was tender and juicy and the sauce had enough flavor to make the already well-seasoned bird sing. For further embellishment, I topped the chicken with cilantro leaves and a few squirts of fresh lime juice, both fine additions, too.

Roast chicken with bacon, tomatoes, and green chiles | Homesick Texan

Now, who could refuse the charms of bacon, tomatoes, and green chiles smothered onto a juicy, flavorful chicken? I know that I can’t. And I’ll also say yes to cooking a warm meal with little fuss in just over an hour. This roast chicken is so simple and satisfying that I made it again a few nights later, and it’s been a favorite ever since.

Roast chicken with bacon, tomatoes, and green chiles | Homesick Texan
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Roast chicken with bacon, tomatoes, and green chiles

Servings 4
Author Lisa Fain

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon New Mexican red chile powder
  • 1 (3- to 3 ½-pound) whole chicken
  • 2 slices uncooked bacon
  • ½ medium yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chiles and its juices
  • Cilantro, for garnishing
  • Cooked rice, for serving
  • Lime wedges, for serving

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Mix together the salt, pepper, oregano, cumin, and chile powder until well combined.


  2. To butterfly the chicken, with kitchen shears or a sharp knife cut the backbone from the chicken (reserving it for another use, such as stock). Flatten the chicken at its breast bone and place on a plate. Season the chicken all over on both sides (getting under the skin on the breasts and thighs), then let it rest as you cook the bacon and aromatics. (If you’re organized, you can also season the chicken then refrigerate it uncovered for up to 24 hours.)


  3. Take a large cast-iron skillet, and cook the bacon on medium heat, turning once, until just beginning to crisp and the fat has rendered, about 7-10 minutes. Remove the bacon from the skillet. Pour off 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat into a bowl, then refrigerate. (This is too cool it off a bit but you’ll soon be using it again.)


  4. Leaving the rest of the bacon fat in the skillet, add the onions and while occasionally stirring cook until fragrant and tender, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 more seconds.


  5. Turn off the heat. Chop the bacon, then stir it into the skillet along with the tomatoes and green chiles. Spread the reserved, refrigerated bacon fat on the chicken breasts under the skin, then place the butterflied chicken, breast side up, on top of the tomatoes.


  6. Slide the skillet in the oven and cook uncovered until the skin is browned and the juices run clear, about 50 minutes, or when a thermometer inserted in the thigh reads 165° F.


  7. Remove from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving. Cut the chicken into pieces then garnish with cilantro and serve with the tomato-bacon pan drippings, cooked rice, and lime wedges.


Recipe Notes

New Mexican red chile powder can be found in most grocery stores or Mexican markets, though if you can't find it, you may substitute either another pure ground chile powder, such as ancho, or blended chili powder.

  1. This looks incredibly yummy, and so easy–I’ll probably use chicken parts instead of butterflying a whole chicken. We eat so little bacon now that our kids are grown, that when I do cook it, I always save the fat to add flavor, particularly to saute aromatic veggies or beef chunks, to soups and stews. When I open a package of bacon, I freeze most of it in little baggies–2 slices per bag–just for adding flavor to other dishes. And this is another wonderful way to use that old Texas fave, canned tomatoes with chiles. The particular brand we all know and love has been branching out with new flavors, and I just picked up a one featuring fire roasted tomato

    • Lisa Fain

      Janet–There’s nothing better than bacon grease for adding flavor! And we can only get the original Ro-Tel style here in NYC (and even it’s difficult to find sometimes), but next time I’m home I’ll keep an eye out for the fire roasted. That sounds so good!

      • I found it here in NC in my local supermarket–made it for supper last night, and it was absolutely delicious

  2. This sounds perfect! Will try it this week! I love your recipes….and I have the same reservations on the instant pot!
    Thank you for the recipes and stories….

    • Lisa Fain

      Hi Danilee–Thank you for the kind words! Glad I’m not alone in my reservations, though its fans are very passionate.

  3. Instant Pot just another way of avoiding the scary sounding and historical Pressure Cooker….

    Instead of the butterfly chicken, can boneless chicken breasts be used? For a different medium, shredded rotisserie chicken (with corresponding recipe adjustments)?

    • Lisa Fain

      Bob–You can use boneless chicken breasts but I’d cook them for only about 40 minutes.

  4. Merry Martin

    I’ve been making this dish since 1966. I “created” it as a teenager tasked with the chore of feeding a family of 8 on a tight budget. We were living in San Antonio, Tx. I called it ro-tel chicken. I used bacon drippings (no bacon) because we always kept some in the fridge. I served it over tons of rice. The rich sauce compensated for small meat servings (chickens were much smaller back then). I always browned the chicken in the fat first, then sautéed the aromatics til translucent. (I added a bit of tomatoe paste to mine and caramelized it to sweeten the broth). Then I deglazed with with the tomatoes, Returned the chicken with herbs to the Dutch oven, covered and baked TIL the meat was falling off the bone. I served with a green salad with avocado and cilantro and green goddess dressing (a dressing that deserves a comeback) or roasted squash. Before today, I’d never come across a recipe so similar to my own. My cousin told me years ago that it tasted like Mexican Cacciatore.

    • Lisa Fain

      Merry–I love it! And your accompanying salad sounds wonderful. I will have to make that!

  5. Gonna try this one tomorrow… using ancho chile powder that I already have on hand… and I always have bacon on hand… You never know when the addition of bacon could be added to help a recipe out… But looking forward to this!!!!

    • Lisa Fain

      Dawn–It will be fantastic with ancho chile powder. Sounds like you’ve got a plan!

  6. Homesick Texan Nation NoCal rep JD checkin’ in. I’m on this chicken dish tonight because, dam, once again, you’re in my food brain. This sounds really good. Only trouble being those lame-#ss Anaheims they grow out here in these parts…poser chiles…no soul. I’ll have to chunk in something with a little heat. Otherwise looking forward to this great soundin’ chicken and some tortillas, guac, beans, Taco Truck Lager…it’s all good.

    • Lisa Fain

      Jimmyd–This time of year, with chiles out of season I find myself using canned or frozen.

  7. At the grocery store now and getting all the ingredients!! Thank you for helping me make dinner!!

  8. We are drinking Margaritas and making this dish tonight. Mmmmm

  9. Made this tonight. It was absolutely fantastic. Chopped up a Hungarian wax pepper (you’d think Central Market would have Anaheims but not today) and added it on top of the Ro-Tel. The spice rub is excellent. My chicken was velociraptor-sized (wanted a 3 lb and all they had was 5 lb) so my cooking time was longer, but man, people, make this.

    • Lisa Fain

      Nina–You know, I’ve never cooked with Hungarian wax peppers before! Are they comparable to Anaheims in flavor and heat? So glad you enjoyed the recipe!

      • I’m not good enough at picking out individual flavors to know, but the Hungarian wax peppers _seem_ comparable to me. They may have a little less heat. FYI, I am about to toss the leftover frozen chicken with the leftover frozen sauce to use as the filling for green chile enchiladas, which seems like kind of the flavor profile of Central Texas (and elsewhere?) stalwart restaurant Trudy’s spiced chicken enchiladas, plus bacon. It is the gift that keeps on giving.

  10. YUM! The bacon under the chicken breast skin makes it taste like smoked chicken breast (my favorite!). We cooked this for dinner tonight here in Sacramento and it was delish! I skipped the rice part and used the oven to roast some veggies instead. Because of that, I boiled down the cooking juice to better pair with the chicken and veggies. Lovely.

    • Lisa Fain

      Kace–I bet that reduced sauce was terrific with veggies. Will have to try that next time!

  11. We made your recipe exactly as you suggested. It was perfect. Just added 10 minutes extra for 5 pound chicken. I’m sure we will serve this to company. It can be prepared ahead of time and pop it in the oven when the guests arrive. Have some starters and Margaritas and then a wonderful dinner in an hour.

    • Lisa Fain

      Rob–Good to know about the extra time. And so pleased y’all enjoyed it!

  12. I’m making this tomorrow night and really looking forward to it! Thanks for another great recipe.
    On a side note, your buttermilk biscuits are my family’s favorite. They are the only biscuits that I make. We love them!

    • Lisa Fain

      Buffy–That’s high praise! I’m honored to hear y’all love the biscuits so much. Thank you!

  13. My oh my, this sounds and looks just wonderful. Will definitely be trying it soon. Maybe over tortilla chips. Rice is always great, but shredding some for “tacos” or even enchiladas sounds good, too.

    Am with you on the Instant Pot. It just doesn’t seem to add anything that either my pressure cooker, slow cooker, or some other pot already isn’t doing well. But for those who need it, looks like a great tool.

    • Lisa Fain

      Pete–I’m totally on board with serving it with tortilla chips and/or shredding it for enchiladas and tacos. I like the way you think!

  14. Elizabeth

    Lisa, thank you. I needed something for dinner tonight and this sounds fabulous. I love your recipes!
    How would enameled dutch oven vs cast iron change the flavor? My cast iron isn’t big enough.
    How would you change cooking time for bone-in breast and legs, or should i just use bone-in thighs?

    • Lisa Fain

      Elizabeth–Enameled Dutch oven would work just fine. For bone-in parts, I would reduce the time 20 minutes for the breasts and 10 for the legs, though you should first check after that time to see if they’re done. If not, continue to cook a bit longer.

  15. ZOY KOCIAN

    This recipe totally rocks!!! I shared it with my sisters last week and made it for my dad on Saturday. My sister made this dish on Saturday for her family. We both decided that this is a keeper. I agree with another poster that it’s kind of like a Mexican Cacciatore. We kept it low-carb and served it with steamed broccoli and green salad.

    • Lisa Fain

      Zoy–Very pleased y’all think it’s a keeper! I bet it’s terrific with broccoli.

  16. Lisa, This is my first comment but I’ve been following you for a while and have your first two cookbooks. Everything I’ve made I like! But this recipe was over the top for flavor and ease. I think the bacon was the “umami” here 🙂 Putting it under the skin on the breasts. Brilliant. The only thing I added was some chipotle powder for kicks. And I’ve found a place to buy Ro-tel tomatoes. All is well.

    • Lisa Fain

      Marsha–Thank you! And I love the addition of chipotle powder–will have to try that myself!

  17. Heather

    I made this recipe last Saturday – it was delicious. Thank you!

  18. I made this a few days ago. It was wonderful, and my husband and I both loved it. I used bone-in skin-on chicken thighs because they’re my favorite chicken part, and it was perfect. Thank you so much. I think I may have to make it again this coming week!

    • Lisa Fain

      Anne–That’s good to know the recipe works well with only thighs. (They’re my favorite part, too!)

  19. What a great looking recipe. Awesome for my large cast iron skillet and for people who are cooking for one.

    While it may not match cast iron for this recipe, certainly research the Instant Pot. As a perceived combo of a slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice cooker, etc. it may just be what Alton Brown loves. A “multi-tasker”. Which if you learn all the tricks and techniques, may be perfect for smaller NYC abodes.

    • Lisa Fain

      Scott–Thank you for the insight. I have a slow cooker that takes up a lot of room so it would be great to have a multi-tasking vessel that does more things.

  20. Lisa – fan(atic) of yours here in Kansas. Cooking this up for our Sunday meal and am ALREADY tasting it in my mind! Adding a few summer canned heirloom tomatoes and local butcher bacon to the mix. Thanks for the recipe.

    I am with Scott on the p-cooker. My slow cooker has been gathering dust since we switched 6 years ago (actually wore out the first one!). Same footprint and more cooking options – once you extract all the goodies from bones for your stocks you’ll know why people love the p-cooker.

    Btw, your carnitas recipe changed our lives!!

    • Lisa Fain

      David–Thank you for the pressure cooker feedback! Look forward to experimenting with carnitas when I finally get one.

  21. So glad I found your website, and this recipe is outstanding! I rubbed the chx and let it sit in the fridge for 24 hours, and the flavors exploded. Cannot wait to try this with fresh tomatoes an peppers from my garden. Thanks again!

  22. Late to the party, but I tried this out last week and it was an instant hit! We’re doing the low-carb thing so I served it with riced cauliflower. I had to hide the leftovers or else my husband would have scarfed the whole bird, I’m not kidding.

  23. We had this tonight and it was a huge hit. I’m a big fan of spatchcocking chicken but had never done it in the iron skillet. The possibilities are endless! I’m so excited to try this again.

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