Pan Roasted Chicken with Carrots, Potatoes & Carrot Top Pesto

        From the blog For Love of the Table

Purchase split breasts (on the bone...with the skin).  I think a 12 ounce breast feeds two people adequately...but you should purchase the amount that works for you.  If you have time, season the chicken the day before with 1/2 to 3/4 t. kosher salt per pound of meat.  Cover loosely and chill overnight.  Pull the chicken out of the fridge and uncover about an hour before you want to cook it. 


Prepare the vegetables as directed (below) while the oven heats.  Transfer the vegetables to the oven and start the chicken.


Prepare the chicken:  Set an oven proof sauté pan that is large enough to accommodate all of your chicken over moderately high heat.  Season the chicken with freshly ground pepper.  When the pan is hot, add enough olive oil to lightly film the pan and add the chicken skin side down.   When the skin is browned and crisp, add some butter (about a teaspoon per breast) to the pan along with a few sprigs of thyme or a scattering of thyme leaves.  When the butter has melted, turn the chicken over—making sure you swipe the skin through the melted butter and thyme as you do and transfer to the oven with the vegetables.  Roast until an instant read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of each breast reads 150° to 155°--about 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and let rest for 10 minutes or so—the internal temperature will continue to rise as the chicken rests and will easily reach the safe temperature of 160°.  Meanwhile, pour any excess fat off of the pan and return the pan to the heat.  Add a few tablespoons of water to the pan and bring to a simmer, scraping the pan with a flat wooden spoon to release all of the caramelized bits.  Set aside.


Prepare the pesto while the chicken and vegetables roast.  You will need 2 to 3 tablespoons of pesto per person.  The rest may be saved (covered, in the refrigerator) for another use.

When the vegetables are almost done, use your hands to pull the bones away from the breasts, starting at the point where the breast was attached to the wing.  Add any resting juices from the plate of resting chicken to the pan of deglazings. 


To serve:  add some pesto (a half tablespoon or so per person—more or less, to taste) to the pan of roasted vegetables and carefully fold in with a rubber spatula.    Thin the remaining 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 T. pesto per person with as much of the deglazings as you like to obtain a drizzling/dolloping consistency.  (You may also thin with olive oil...or even water...if you like.  If you use olive oil or water, recheck the seasoning after doing so.)  Slice the breasts at an angle, across the grain.  Arrange the vegetables on a large serving platter or individual plates and fan the meat on top.  Drizzle/dollop the platter/plates with pesto, serving any of the pesto that has been mixed with pan deglazings on the side, passing at the table. 



Roasted Young Carrots and Creamer Potatoes with Garlic & Thyme


For each person you will need:

5 to 6 oz. fingerling or creamer potatoes

5 to 6 oz. young carrots, peeled

2 to 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed/bruised

1 or 2 sprigs of thyme

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 375° to 400°.  Scrub the potatoes.  If they are more than an inch in diameter, halve them.  If the carrots are small, leave a half inch or so of the green.  If they are fatter than an inch in diameter, halve them lengthwise.  If they are long, simply cut them into 1 inch pieces.  In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, carrots, garlic and thyme and drizzle liberally with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper.  Arrange the vegetables in a baking dish, roasting pan or rimmed sheet pan that is just large enough to hold the vegetables in a snug single layer.  Cover the pan with foil and roast until the vegetables are tender and lightly caramelized—removing the foil after about 20 minutes and giving the pan a shake to redistribute the vegetables—total cooking time will be about 40 minutes. 



Carrot Top Pesto


Before measuring the carrot tops, trim the feathery fronds away from the thick, ropey stems.  Discard the stems and use the tops only.


2 c. (2 oz.) lightly packed carrot tops 

a handful (1 oz.) of arugula

1/2 c. shelled pistachios, lightly toasted

1/2 to 3/4 t. kosher salt

1 large clove of garlic, peeled and smashed to a purée with a pinch of salt

2/3 c. olive more if needed to get preferred consistency

1/3 c. (1 oz.) finely grated Parmesan

Freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste, if necessary

Place the carrot tops, arugula, pistachios, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in the food processor and process until everything is finely and uniformly chopped.  With the machine running, drizzle in the olive oil.  Scrape down the sides.  Add the Parmesan and pulse to combine.  Taste and correct the seasoning with salt and lemon juice if necessary.  If the pesto seems to tight, drizzle in a bit more oil.  Makes 1 1/4 cup pesto.  Store in the refrigerator in a jar with a tight fitting lid and filmed with oil.