Chicken With Bitter Herb Pesto
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.
- Serves: 6 persons
- 1clove garlic, peeled
- ⅓cup toasted pine nuts
- ⅓cup dried currants
- 1 ½cups coarsely chopped escarole leaves
- 2tablespoons flat-leaf parsley
- Salt and black pepper
- 3pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, about 12
- 5tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ½cup matzo meal
- 1cup chicken stock
- 1tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Step 1Turn 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.
Step 2Spread 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.
Step 3Heat 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 1 1/2 hours. Add chicken stock to skillet and set aside.
Step 4When 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.