Chicken With Bitter Herb Pesto

Chicken With Bitter Herb Pesto

Recipe courtesy of Florence Fabricant, photo by Tony Cenicola for The New York Times. The recipe calls for boneless skinless chicken thighs but we prefer bone-in skin on thighs. Our boneless skinless turkey thighs also work.

"The goal was compatibility with Israeli white and red wines and also with a Passover Seder menu. It was a simple one, achieved with dark meat chicken, which goes with either choice and can stand up to slow cooking. I made a pesto with escarole. Among Ashkenazi Jews the bitter herb, or maror, on the ceremonial Seder plate is usually horseradish. But for Sephardic Jews, it is usually a green vegetable like escarole, which Ashkenazi Jews may sometimes include. I spread the pesto on the boned thighs, then enclosed the filling. Matzo meal encouraged a golden crust. The chicken needs no tending during the Seder service. It's a good idea to pray for leftovers, because the chicken, sliced into rounds, is delicious for lunch." — Florence Fabricant

Serves 6-8


  • 3lb pounds bone-in, skin on chicken thighs or boneless skinless turkey thighs
  • clove garlic, peeled
  • ⅓ cup toasted pine nuts
  • ⅓ cup dried currants
  • 1½ cups coarsely chopped escarole leaves
  • 2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup matzo meal
  • cup chicken stock
  • tablespoon balsamic vinegar


Turn on food processor and drop garlic through feed tube. When minced add pine nuts and currants and chop finely. Add escarole and parsley, and process until very fine. Season with salt and pepper.

Spread chicken pieces flat, pound lightly, then season inside with salt and pepper. Spread with some escarole mixture and close up. Brush with a little oil. Reserve 1 tablespoon matzo meal: season the rest with salt and pepper, and use to coat chicken.

Heat oven to 250 degrees. Heat remaining oil in large, heavy skillet. Cook chicken, turning once, over medium-high heat until golden. Inside will not be cooked. Place in a baking pan, cover loosely with foil and place in oven 1½ hours. Add chicken stock to skillet and set aside.

When chicken is done, transfer to platter and keep warm in turned-off oven. Pour juices from baking pan into skillet, bring to a simmer, whisk in vinegar and reserved matzo meal and cook, stirring constantly until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper. Strain sauce, reheat briefly, and serve alongside chicken.