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Mexican Roast Chicken With Pan-Roasted Tomato-Chile Sauce

The key to the great flavor of this tomato-chile sauce is roasting the vegetables and tomatoes in an almost-dry cast-iron skillet. High heat and little oil equal the right amount of char to create a spicy, smoky sauce for easy roast chicken.

Note: The length of roasting time, of course, depends on the size of the chicken pieces. The time here is based on a 3-1/4-lb chicken, cut into 8 pieces (breasts, wings, legs, thighs). Adjust the time according to the size and type of pieces you choose to roast.

Mexican Roast Chicken With Pan-Roasted Tomato-Chile Sauce
Serves: 4
  • olive oil, for brushing
  • 4 serrano or cayenne chiles (or a mix), stems removed
  • 3 large scallions, cut crosswise into 3 pieces
  • ½ large red bell pepper (without seeds)
  • 4 large roma tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed.
  • ½ tsp chile powder
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 3- to 3-1/2-lb chicken, cut into 8 pieces (or purchase the pieces you prefer)
  1. Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot enough to sizzle a drop of water, brush lightly with olive oil.
  2. Add the chiles, scallions, and bell pepper and roast, turning several times, until charred in places, about 5 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a cutting board.
  3. If needed, brush the skillet with a little more olive oil and add the tomatoes cut-side down. Roast, turning several times, until the tomatoes begin to char, about 3 minutes. Transfer to the same cutting board with the vegetables.
  4. Roughly chop the roasted chiles, bell pepper, scallions, and tomatoes and add to a food processor. Add chile powder and cumin and season with salt and pepper. Process to a slightly thick puree. (You should have about 1 cup of sauce.)
  5. Reserve half the sauce for basting and rub the remaining half beneath the skin of the chicken pieces and all over the outside. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour. (May also be refrigerated overnight.)
  6. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. and line a large, shallow baking pan with parchment paper.
  7. Place the marinated chicken on the pan and roast 25 minutes.
  8. Turn the chicken over and baste with half the reserved tomato-chile sauce. Roast for 15 minutes longer, then turn the pieces back over and baste with the remaining sauce. Roast for another 5-10 minutes.
  9. Transfer to a platter and let rest 5-6 minutes before serving.