Chicken relleno |

Chicken relleno

What Speedy really wanted was a dish that goes like this: A deboned and stuffed chicken is stuffed into a deboned duck and the duck is stuffed into a deboned turkey. Even granting that I can debone a turkey and a duck, something I’ve never done before, I don’t know how we can finish all that. A turkey would be around ten kilos, the average duck is around five kilos… add the chicken plus the stuffing that goes inside the chicken… Wow, we’ll be eating the same three-bird dish for two weeks.

So, I cooked chicken relleno instead. Last Monday. I used a 2.2-kilogram chicken, I thought we’d have leftovers galore but, as soon as Sam saw the cooked chicken relleno come out of the oven, she announced that there won’t be any leftovers. She was right. But we didn’t really finish the whole chicken in one sitting. More like lunch and dinner plus several slices that I packed for the girls to bring to the condo.

Now, there’s an old chicken relleno recipe in the archive that I posted in 2007. The main differences between the old chicken relleno recipe and this one is the bacon and the marinating of the deboned chicken. I used chopped chorizo de Bilbao in the 2007 recipe; I used chopped belly bacon in this one. And, instead of simply rubbing the deboned chicken with salt and pepper, I marinated it in beer, herbs, spices and seasonings.

Using bacon made a whole lot of difference in the texture of the stuffing and the chicken meat — especially the breast meat. The fat from the bacon prevented the chicken meat from drying out. And, as the fat melted and melded with the bread crumbs, it served as a wonderful binder to make a firm but not too dense stuffing. Marinating the chicken with herbs and spices made the meat more flavorful and aromatic.

Recipe: Chicken relleno


  • a whole dressed chicken, 2 to 2.2 kg. in weight

For the marinade:

  • 1 c. of beer
  • 2 tbsps. of salt
  • 1 tsp. of sugar
  • 1 tsp. of cayenne powder
  • 1/2 tsp. of dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp. of dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. of fennel seeds

For the stuffing:

  • 250 g. of ground pork
  • 250 g. of belly bacon, chopped
  • 1/3 c. of finely chopped onions
  • 1/3 c. of finely chopped carrots
  • 1/3 c. of sweet pickle relish
  • 1/3 c. of finely chopped bell peppers (I used a combination of red and green bell peppers)
  • 3/4 c. of panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • 1 tbsp. of salt
  • 1/2 tsp. of freshly milled black pepper
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, shelled


  1. Debone the chicken. Separate the meat from the bones, NOT the meat from the skin.
  3. Using a small pointed and very sharp knife (I used a paring knife), cut around the tail end of the chicken to separate the meat from the bone. Use swift short strokes.
  4. Do NOT push the knife too far. Just small nips. As you cut with one hand, use the other the pull the meat away from the bone. When you have about three inches of the back bone exposed, set the knife aside and use your fingers to gently separate the meat from the bone. Just start pushing your fingers inside the chicken, little by little, feeling where the bone is and then inserting your fingers between the meat and the bone.
  5. Now, you’ll need the knife again to cut through five areas — the four joints and the neck bone. The four joints are the two joints separating the thighs from the legs (drumsticks), and the two joints separating the “little drumstick” (attached to the wings) from the breast.
  6. So, just use the knife to cut through the joints. I deboned the thigh but, if you feel more comfortable, you can cut the joint that separates the thigh from the back rather than the joint that separates the thigh from the leg. That way, there’s no need to debone the thigh.
  8. Once you’ve cut through the four joints and the neck bone, you can pull off the bony carcass in one piece.
  10. Mix together all the ingredients for the marinade.
  11. Place the deboned chicken in a resealable bag. Pour in the marinade. Keep in the fridge overnight, turning the bag over after about six hours.
  13. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  14. Mix together all the ingredients for the stuffing, except the hard-boiled eggs.
  16. Take the chicken out of the bag. Stuff the cavity. You’ll have to push the stuffing all the way inside to make sure that every nook and cranny gets stuffed.
  17. Now take the three eggs and push them through the stuffing, one after the other.
  19. Use wooden toothpicks to seal the opening. In case the skin tore, use toothpicks as well to mend the tear.
  21. Place a rack on a baking dish and arrange the chicken on the rack. I originally intended to roast the chicken breast side up but I figured that I wanted the melted bacon fat to fall onto the breast meat so I ended up roasting the chicken breast side down.
  23. Roast the chicken at 375F. Depending on the size of the chicken, this can take anywhere from an hour and twenty minutes to an hour and fifty minutes. If you did not debone the thighs, the roasting time would be longer to make sure that the thigh meat is cooked through.
  25. Cover the roasted chicken relleno loosely with a foil and cool for at least 15 minutes. Longer is better. In fact, chilling it in the fridge for a couple of hours after cooling will make slicing easier.
  26. Slice the chicken and serve. You might want to pour gravy over it but, seriously, ketchup and mayo are fine with me.

Preparation time: 30 minute(s)

Cooking time: 1 hour(s) 40 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 8


  1. Serey says

    I guess what your husband wanted to try is what is called “turducken”, a chicken stuffed into a duck and then both stuffed into a turkey. Boy, that’ll be a lot of de-boning. :-)

    • says

      Oh so that’s what it’s called? I’m sure it’s delicious but all that work… Gee, I’d be fast asleep from fatigue by the time the whole thing comes out of the oven. Lol

  2. says

    Looks really good. I watched a show years ago about that turducken. I was like, dang that’s a lot of work, hehe. Looked yummy though.

  3. TRose says

    The turducken is really very good. Because it’s a lot of work, we buy it ready to cook. I think its a Louisiana dish.
    Been wanting to try deboning a chicken because I love chicken relleno but it seems difficult. But the way you explained it, makes me want to try it. Wish me luck.

  4. carmen says

    Hmmm, Connie, I envy your youth and energy! Haven’t made relleno since the kids were little. Should I attempt this for Christmas? I think I can, I think I can.

    Roasting a turkey breast side down also makes for a surprisingly moist turkey. Just spray the rack with Pam so the skin stays intact when you invert.

    I do believe turducken is a Southern dish, sold in stores with tasty crawfish rolls. The practice, though, dates back to ancient Rome, where cows were stuffed with two other smaller animals (don’t remember which ones). Roman feasting at its best!

    Thanks for sharing, Connie. That’s an interesting marinate you got there.

  5. gigi says

    thanks for making it look and sound easy to do.. i have had a go at making rellenong bangus… and it is labor intensive lol.. i might give this a go too …

  6. Pet Besa says

    Wow!! Your chicken relleno recipe is really good!! I checked out YouTube for the deboning process which wasn’t so difficult after watching it for so many, many times. I even took out the wing and thigh bones. lol I tweaked your recipe a bit– dropped the bell peppers because my kids don’t eat them. However, by and large, the outcome was really yummy, even to my picky Capampangan husband. I trust more chicken rellenos will be baking in my oven in the future thanks so much!!! ; )

  7. Nomnom says

    Hi Connie. Got a question. Since the chicken is in the fridge overnight, do you usually prepare the stuffing the next day or do you prep them the same day you debone your chicken and just stick the stuffing in the fridge as well? Thanks!

  8. Rush Dizon says

    Hi! I just want to let you know, chicken relleno is in the oven right now. First time to debone a whole chicken, and stuff it like that. Surely, my family will love it! Merry Christmas Atty. Connie and more power to you! Next week, I will bake the Kit Kat Cake for my husband’s family naman. I’m also sure, they will love it. God bless you!

  9. Rush Dizon says

    Hi, Atty. Connie! FYI, my family loved it! I never thought na mabilis mauubos. Naiba naman ang Noche Buena namin ngayon because of chicken relleno. Usually, pasta, ham, cordon bleu, salad and cake, but now, iniba namin ang menu and isa ito sa dinagdag ko. Talagang naghanap ako ng recipe sa website nyo. Ngayon, naghahanap ako for New Year, Kit Kat cake is one and I’m looking for a main dish. You are a big help. Thank you and God bless!

  10. says

    Hi Connie!

    I work at National Public Radio and we’re working on a story about chicken relleno as a Christmas food in the Philippines and I came across your recipe and photos of the dish. I was wondering if you’d be willing to share a photo of the finished chicken with us to accompany the piece. We’d be sure to credit you for the image and would love to link back to your blog. The deadline I’ve been given is as soon as possible.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    Thank you,

    NPR Science