Everyone loves a classic roast chicken, but every once in a while we like to dress it up. And there’s no better way to use up an abundance of fresh herbs than with a basil pesto, which not only imparts herby flavor but the spice of garlic and richness of cheese and nuts.
Since the pesto burns easily, we roast at a moderate temperature, then broil for crispy, golden skin. It’s crucial to watch the chicken carefully to prevent burning. We like that this is a single sheet tray meal that uses a carved-up chicken, but you could just as easily rub the pesto on a whole chicken for a beautiful green bird to carve tableside.
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
For the Pesto:
- 2 cups basil leaves, plus more for garnish
- ¼ cup freshly grated Grana Padano
- ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
- ⅓ cup pine nuts, toasted, plus more for garnish
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus more for garnish
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- ½ cup olive oil
- Kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste
For the Chicken:
- One 4-to-5-pound chicken, broken into 8 pieces
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1. Make the pesto: In a food processor, combine all the ingredients except the olive oil and salt and pepper. Purée until smooth, then, with the motor running, stream in the oil until a smooth pesto forms. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Make the chicken: Preheat the oven to 350°. Place the chicken in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper, then toss with half of the pesto, rubbing under the skin. Place on a wire rack over a baking sheet and roast until it has reached an internal temperature of 155°, 30 minutes. Turn on the broiler and continue to cook until the chicken is golden brown and has reached an internal temperature of 165°, 4 to 6 minutes more. Let rest for 5 minutes.
3. Transfer the chicken to a platter. Dollop the remaining pesto over top. Garnish with basil leaves, Parmesan, pine nuts and red pepper flakes, then serve.
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