We love a classic roast chicken as much as the next guy, 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. It's a favorite easy dinner to serve all the way through summer.
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.
Check out our best chicken recipes.
Chicken Genovese (Pesto-Roasted Chicken)
Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
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.