Shiso Pesto Roasted Chicken


How’s everyone’s summer going? Here in the Lower Mainland in BC, Canada, we’ve had the driest July in history. That means we have an abundance of veggies and fruits compared to the past few years. It is indeed overwhelming to choose what to cook so as not to miss out on each food’s prime season. Thanks to the heat, we have been enjoying plump and juicy tomatoes every day!

Today’s recipe is a celebration of shiso (Japanese herb), whose scent always brings back memories of my grandma’s tiny garden, full of weed-like green and red shiso plants that she used to pickle umeboshi. Since this plant is prone to vigorous growth, one only needs to plant a seedling or two to obtain a sufficiently abundant supply.

In this recipe, shiso is used to create a pesto that is inserted under the chicken’s skin to impart a unique flavour to the dish. Make plenty so you mix the leftovers into pasta and/or sneak it into grilled sandwiches for easy weekday meals. We truly enjoyed sandwiches made the next day with the leftover shiso pesto chicken plus fresh tomato slices!


Shiso Pesto Roasted Chicken

Serves 4, or 2 plus leftover

Shiso Pesto
½ heaped cup hazelnuts
¼ cup sunflower seeds
3 garlic cloves
¾ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
A bunch of shiso leaves, stems removed, rinsed and patted dry
1 sprig flat parsley
½ teaspoon sea salt
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon melted butter

1 free-range chicken, rinsed and patted dry
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Olive oil
A bunch of carrots, leaves removed, rinsed and patted dry

Make pesto. Roast the hazelnuts and sunflower seeds until aromatic and golden. Place all ingredients except oil in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Start adding oil in a steady drip, and continue to pulse until pesto becomes smooth. It is okay to leave some coarse texture. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Place the chicken on a roasting pan, chest side up. Salt and pepper the chicken. Insert the pesto from the openings and spread evenly under the bird’s skin through the breasts to thighs and repeat the same for the back–be careful so you don’t tear the skin.

Remove the pesto from your hands and smear on the outside of the chicken. You can add 2 more tablespoons or so of the pesto and continue to rub the entire chicken, making sure it’s well coated. Rub the inside of the carcass too. Finally, drizzle some oil over top, and coat the outside of the chicken evenly. Tie the legs with some kitchen string.

Roast until done; for example, it will take about 1 hour and 10 minutes for a small bird. Alternately, wait until a thermometer inserted at the thickest part of the poultry reaches 165F.

When the chicken is halfway done, add the carrots (lightly coated with salt, pepper and oil) to the roasting pan.

Baste the chicken and carrots periodically.

Remove from the oven, and rest for a few minutes. Carve the chicken and serve to individual plates with carrots. Serve immediately. Keep the rest of the pesto in an airtight container, and refrigerate for another use.



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16. August 2013 by Emi Uchida
Categories: Garden, Meat, Poultry, Recipe, Sandwich | Tags: , , , , , | 4 comments

Comments (4)

  1. I love this recipe – creative and original. And what a handsome bird. I’ve got to add shisho to my seed list for next year. I like the red too. Great idea as a pesto.
    This dry summer has been incredible but I had to start relaxing on feeling like we had to eat every single veggie every single day/meal. I was almost relieved when the peas finally gave in as they were overlapping with the prolific green beans!
    cheers, wendy

    • Hi Wendy, I know how you feel when you said about relaxing over vegetables! We’ve been trying to be creative to come up with different dishes with the same ingredients at one point LOL! When the weather is so great, it’s hard to catch up with the speed of the growth of veggies so as not to lose them… My pole beans are becoming too big for the tender texture that I was waiting for… I just try to be thankful to Mother Nature for giving us so much food to eat! Take care, Wendy.

  2. よだれ垂れまくり・・・なんて汚い言い方ですけど、めっちゃくちゃ美味しそう!!!!いろんなPestoがあるけど、紫蘇で作るなんて、さすがっ!!紫蘇の香り、大好きで暑い時でも食欲が出てきますよね。このローストチキン、食べたいーー!そしてサンドイッチは次の日に・・・。 🙂

  3. my dinner tonight was this incredibly flavorful clever serve of shiso pesto roast chicken. i am already excited for my midnight sneak to the refrigerator to make a sandwich. this afternoon i ate your niratama no ankake and i melted with happiness. i can’t wait to slowly walk your blog through my kitchen adventures. clearly the yummy-ness is going to equal the beauty of your photography shares. thank you thank you thank you!! 🙂

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