Schlemmertopf-Roasted Pesto Chicken

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 90 minutes


  • 1 whole 3½ to 4-pound (1½- to 1¾-kg) baking chicken, organs removed, rinsed with neck skin and fat removed
  • 2 cups (80 g) loosely packed fresh basil leaves, washed and patted dry
  • ¼ cup (115 g) raw filberts
  • 4 tablespoons (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) plus 1 tablespoon (15 ml) red wine, divided
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, divided
  • 2 cups (475 ml) low-sodium fat-free chicken broth
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons (2 to 4 g) organic Better Than Bouillon, chicken flavor, optional
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • ¼ cup (15 g) sliced sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (see “Notes from the Kitchen”)
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut on the bias into ½-inch (1-cm) sections
  • 2 zucchini, sliced thickly on the bias into long sections about ¾ inch (2 cm) wide
  • 1½ cups (150 g) heirloom-variety large green beans, stems removed
  • ½ cup (95 g) wild rice

Put the Schlemmertopf lid into the sink and cover it with cold water until completely submerged. Let it soak for at least 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a food processor, puree the fresh basil, filberts, oil, 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of the wine, 1 clove garlic, salt, and ½ teaspoon of the pepper together in a food processor in short pulses. Stop frequently to scrape down sides, continuing to pulse until the mixture is still a little chunky, but evenly chopped. Set the pesto aside.

Pour the broth into the Schlemmertopf and whisk in remaining ¼ cup (60 ml) of wine, crushed garlic, bouillon, dried basil, and the remaining ¼ teaspoon of pepper. Add the tomatoes, carrots, zucchini, beans, and rice to the broth. Pat the chicken dry and place it on top of the vegetables. Put the pesto under the skin of the chicken breast and coat the entire outer surface of the chicken, plus inside both cavities. (It’s okay if some pesto falls into the broth.) Cover the pot and put it on the lowest rack in the cold oven. Set the oven to 425°F (220°C, gas mark 7) and bake for 90 minutes. (If you have an electric stove, which often runs hotter than flame, the chicken may be done in 1 hour and 15 minutes.)

When the chicken is done, be careful removing the Schlemmertopf lid because the steam inside is very hot. Remove the chicken from the pot and set it on a large platter. Skim as much fat from the broth as you can, and remove the rice and vegetables with a slotted spoon. Place the rice and vegetables around the chicken on the platter or in a separate bowl.

Yield: 6 servings

Notes from the Kitchen

  • This dish is designed for the largest (turkey size) Schlemmertopf. 
  • A Schlemmertopf is a lidded terra-cotta pot. Although Schlemmertopfs aren’t typical tools in American kitchens, they are staples in many European homes. Schlemmertopfs run a little pricey (around $70 for the larger models, less for used models sold online or secondhand), and they can be found in most good kitchen supply stores. They cook food so effectively and deliciously that they’re worth the investment.
  • To use your Schlemmertopf, soak the lid in cold water for about 15 minutes. While it is soaking, chop the vegetables. Assemble the ingredients, put them in the pot, and put on the wet lid. Place the pot on the low rack in a cold oven, then turn the oven temperature to 425ºF (220°C, gas mark 7). Let your dish cook for between 60 and 90 minutes, depending on what you’re making. (Whole chickens take longer; diced boneless cuts of meat take less time.) The wet lid will release moisture while your meal cooks. This combination of baking and steaming perfectly browns meat or vegetable skin, while cooking the insides to tender, juicy softness—perfect!
  • Caution: Open the lid away from your face because the steam is very hot.
  • The bouillon in the chicken dish is optional, but it does add a richer flavor.
  • It’s important to use dry sun-dried tomatoes for the chicken dish, not ones in oil. The dish is oily enough with the fat released from the chicken.
  • Instead of zucchini, try quartered pattypans or golden yellow squash if they’re in season.

Back to: Schlemmertopf-Pesto Roasted Chicken >>

Excerpted from The Healthiest Meals On Earth by Jonny Bowden

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