Eight ingredients, plus pantry staples. That's all it takes to make an entire meal from scratch. Add in a good bottle of wine for less than $20, and you've got a feast for family or friends.
Many people would say that bacon makes everything better. While I usually disagree with that (its smokiness can easily overpower other elements, in my opinion), it certainly does here. The bacon’s fat is rendered out in a pan and becomes the basis for the entire dish, underscoring the flavor profile with meaty richness and depth. The crisp pieces of bacon that result from this step are used later.
The chicken gets tossed in that fat along with some vegetables. Parsnips have an earthiness and a subtle bite that I really enjoy, and roasting accents their natural sweetness along with that of the carrots. Any root vegetables will work here, and I’ll sometimes also throw in shiitakes, which pair well with the bacon and herbs and add more textural variety.
If you’re making four servings, transferring the ingredients to a sheet pan for roasting avoids overcrowding. But for two to three servings, or if you have a large enough skillet, everything can be left in the skillet and transferred directly to the oven. A pan with a rounded bottom will pool more of the fat, so you’ll get a slight confit effect on the vegetables. If desired, you can crisp them up by returning just the veggies to the oven for a few more minutes.
Once the chicken and veggies are roasted, the bacon comes back into play. Any remaining fat is whisked into a vinaigrette for a side salad of arugula, tossed with the crisped bacon pieces left after rendering. I sometimes throw some grated parmesan into salads with arugula and red-wine vinegar, and pumpkin seeds or chopped walnuts could be nice as well. The salad can be skipped (you can garnish the chicken with the extra bacon pieces or save them for another use), but I do suggest serving the meal with something fresh.
It’s a hearty dish, so pairing it with a white wine is another great way to bring brightness to the meal. I chose one that’s pleasantly layered but not so complex that it distracts from the dish: Philippe Viallet Vin de Savoie 2019, a blend of Jacquère, Chasselas, Chardonnay and Altesse from southeastern France. Scoring 91 points with a release price of just $15, this is a wine you’ll want to reach for with or without a meal.
Bacon Fat–Roasted Chicken and Root Vegetables with Arugula Salad
Pair with a French white blend showing purity and minerality, such as Philippe Viallet Vin de Savoie 2019 (91 points, $15).
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 60 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 5 minutes
Approximate food costs: $25
- 3 slices bacon, cut into 1/4-inch strips
- 1 to 2 large parsnips
- 1 to 2 large carrots
- 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
- 6 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1 small bunch thyme
- 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
- Red wine vinegar, to taste
- 4 cups arugula
1. Preheat oven to 425° F. Set a large, oven-safe skillet over medium-low heat and add the bacon. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes until the fat has rendered out and the pieces are crisp. In the meantime, peel the parsnip and carrot and cut them into 1/2-inch sticks. Remove skillet from the heat, transfer the bacon to a plate with tongs or a slotted spoon and set aside, leaving the rendered fat in the pan.
2. Add carrots and parsnips and toss to coat in the bacon fat, then transfer to a sheet pan and season with salt and pepper. Toss the chicken in the bacon fat as well, then arrange it on top of the vegetables on the sheet pan. (If halving the recipe to serve 2 instead, leave the chicken and vegetables in the skillet and transfer the skillet to the oven to roast, rather than using a sheet pan.) Nestle in the smashed garlic cloves and tuck a few thyme sprigs under the chicken. Transfer to the oven and cook for 20 to 25 minutes until the chicken skin is crisp and the veggies are browned.
3. Discard thyme sprigs and stray garlic cloves. Transfer the chicken to a serving plate and pour the excess fat into a small bowl. Garnish the chicken with parsley.
4. In the small bowl, whisk in red wine vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Use the mixture to dress the arugula. Add reserved crispy bacon and serve the salad with the chicken. Serves 4.