Jan 5, 2021

Roasted Chicken with Italian Salsa Verde

Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 40 mins
A whole chicken is broken down into 10 pieces and seared in a pan until the skin is crispy then roasted until cooked through and juicy.

Using a whole chicken is the most cost effective and I love getting a variety of cuts. The rendered chicken fat is tossed with cubes of fresh bread and cooked into flavorful, crispy croutons served over bitter radicchio. The drippings contain so much flavor,  that when I create the croutons it keeps one of my favorite parts of roasted chicken from going to waste!

Roasted Chicken with Italian Salsa Verde

What is Salsa Verde?

The crispy chicken is topped off with Italian salsa verde. This green sauce, similar to chimichurri, is filled with chopped herbs, umami packed flavors of anchovy, briney capers and zesty lemon. The lemon helps to brighten the sauce and offset the briny elements. I add Calabrian chilies for an added fiery kick.

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Key Ingredients in This Recipe

  • Chicken – I use a whole chicken in this recipe and break it down into parts. Whole chickens are actually very cheap to buy and the bones can be turned into chicken stock later. Skin on, bone in chicken thighs can also be used in this recipe instead of a whole chicken.
  • Lemon zest – The lemon zest is the grated outer skin from the lemon. Use a zester or microplane to remove the zest. If you don’t have a zester use a paring knife or vegetable peeler to remove the rind and finely chop it. 
  • Anchovy – Look for oil-packed anchovies to use in this recipe. They add a briny, salty flavor to the salsa verde.
  • Capers – Capers have a tangy, salty flavor. The edible part of the caper plant is the immature flower buds. They are typically pickled and packed in oil or salt.
  • Calabrian chili – They are little red Italian chili peppers that pack a punch and once preserved in oil (as used here), they are smoky, salty, fruity and spicy all at the same time. While they are becoming more widely available (Trader Joe’s Bomba sauce is a good substitute) if you can’t track down Calabrian chili paste then I’d recommend finely chopping fire roasted red peppers and stirring them together with crushed red pepper flakes to form a paste. It won’t have the exact same flavor but it will do in a pinch. If you can’t find Calabrian chili paste at your local store I’d recommend ordering a jar from Williams Sonoma or Amazon. 

How to Make Roast Chicken with Italian Salsa Verde

  • Make the salsa verde. In a small mixing bowl add the parsley, tarragon, olive oil, lemon zest, capers. anchovies, garlic and Calabrian chili and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside until ready to use.
  • Break down the chicken. Heat oven to 400ºF. To break down the chicken, lay the chicken with the breast-side up. Using a sharp chef’s knife, pull the legs away from the body and carefully slice through the skin between the breast and the drumstick on each side. Bend the legs back until the thigh bone pops out of the socket and you can cut through the joint. Separate the leg and the thigh at the join and cut through.
  • Cut out the backbone. First, pull the wings away from the chicken then cut through the joints, removing the wings. Second, remove the backbone, I do this using kitchen shears (save the backbone for stock or discard). Third, place the breasts skin-side down and slice the breasts into two halves. Cut the breasts into quarters, diagonally.
  • Season the chicken and sear. Generously season the chicken thighs on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat, add the oil and heat through. Add the chicken thighs skin-side down to the cast iron, being careful not to overcrowd the pan (you may have to work in batches).
  • Cook the chicken. Cook the chicken, untouched, until the fat renders and the skin is golden-brown, about 6 minutes. When adequately browned the skin should easily lift off the pan. Flip the chicken and cook.
  • Bake the chicken. Arrange the chicken pieces on a baking sheet. Next, roast until all pieces are completely cooked through. Remove the chicken fat that is renders in the pan when searing the chicken and set aside in a bowl.
  • Crisp the bread in the chicken fat. Turn the oven down to 350ºF. Toss the bread with the rendered chicken fat and olive oil then arrange in an even single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until crispy.
  • Serve. Arrange the radicchio on a large platter and top with the roasted chicken and chicken fat croutons. Spoon the salsa verde over the top and serve.
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Tips and Tricks for This Recipe

  • I love serving it with chicken though it also pairs well with steak, lamb, fish or roasted vegetables.
  • I prefer to chop the herbs in the sauce by hand rather than using a food processor so it is more of a chunky texture rather than a blended sauce like a pesto.

Other Recipes to Try

If you enjoy this recipe, I recommend checking out some of these:

Roasted Chicken with Italian Salsa Verde

Print Pin
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Serves 6

Ingredients:

For the salsa verde:

  • 1 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped tarragon
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon oil-packed capers
  • 2 anchovy fillets, bones removed and finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon Calabrian chili paste
  • Kosher salt, as needed
  • Freshly ground black pepper, as needed

For the chicken:

  • 1 (4-pound) whole chicken
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt, as needed
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For serving:

  • 1 small loaf bread, cut into 2” cubes
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small head radicchio, roughly chopped

Instructions:

For the salsa verde:

  • In a small mixing bowl add the parsley, tarragon, olive oil, lemon zest, capers. anchovies, garlic and calabrian chili and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside until ready to use.

For the chicken:

  • Heat oven to 400ºF.
  • To break down the chicken, lay the chicken with the breast-side up. Using a sharp chef’s knife, pull the legs away from the body and carefully slice through the skin between the breast and the drumstick on each side. Bend the legs back until the thigh bone pops out of the socket and you can cut through the joint. Separate the leg and the thigh at the join and cut through.
  • Pull the wings away from the chicken then cut through the joints, removing the wings. Next remove the backbone, I do this using kitchen shears (save the backbone for stock or discard). Place the breasts skin-side down and slice the breasts into two halves. Cut the breasts into quarters, diagonally.
  • Generously season the chicken thighs on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat, add the oil and heat through. Add the chicken thighs skin-side down to the cast iron, being careful not to overcrowd the pan (you may have to work in batches).
  • Cook the chicken, untouched, until the fat renders and the skin is golden-brown, about 6 minutes. When adequately browned the skin should easily lift off the pan. Flip the chicken and cook for an additional 4 minutes.
  • Arrange the chicken pieces on a baking sheet and roast until all pieces are completely cooked through, about 20 minutes. Remove the chicken fat that is rendered in the pan when searing the chicken and set aside in a bowl.

For serving:

  • Turn the oven down to 350ºF. Toss the bread with the rendered chicken fat and olive oil then arrange in an even single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until crispy, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Arrange the radicchio on a large platter and top with the roasted chicken and chicken fat croutons. Spoon the salsa verde over the top and serve.

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