A whole roasted chicken with an aroma of basil will take center stage at any dinner party of weeknight meal.

Anna Theoktisto

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Credit: Greg DuPree; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Christine Keely

Recipe Summary

active:
20 mins
stand:
30 mins
roast:
1 hr
cool:
10 mins
total:
2 hrs
Servings:
4
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Inspired by the famous recipe, Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic, this basil-filled bird is just as aromatic. We have a feeling that Chicken with 40 Leaves of Basil is soon to become a household favorite. A whole-roasted bird is bound to be the centerpiece at any dinner party, but this dish is easy enough to execute on a weeknight. With just 15 minutes of active time, most of the magic happens in the oven.

In this recipe, the chicken gets basted all over in a vibrant basil-oil mixture, which not only adds a serious boost of flavor, but also seals in the chicken's moisture, preventing the bird from drying out in the oven. The chicken rests on a bed of onions and sweet peppers, which cook in the chicken drippings to create an instant, no-effort-necessary side. Since this recipe calls for a large quantity of basil, your best bet is to buy a living basil plant—not only will the leaves be super fresh, but you'll be sure to have enough basil with some left over. We call that the gift that keeps on giving.

Serve alongside crusty bread or roasted potatoes to enjoy every last bit of the herb oil. A bottle of white wine makes the perfect accompaniment to this weeknight-friendly roast chicken. When it comes to leftover chicken, the possibilities are endless. Toss together an herby chicken salad, or shred the chicken and add to pasta with pesto.

Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Remove giblets and neck from chicken; discard. Let chicken come to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375°F. 

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  • Pat chicken dry. Rub salt evenly inside chicken cavity and on skin. Carefully run your fingers under skin of chicken breast and thighs, lifting skin slightly to loosen (this will help the chicken brown). Place 2 to 3 basil leaves inside chicken cavity.

  • Finely chop remaining basil, and transfer to a small bowl. Stir in oil and black pepper. (Alternatively, you can use a mortar and pestle to crush chopped basil, oil, and black pepper together.) Reserve 2 tablespoons basil-oil mixture for serving. Rub remaining basil-oil mixture evenly inside chicken cavity and on chicken skin. Arrange onion wedges and peppers in a large cast-iron skillet; top with chicken. Scatter garlic around chicken in skillet.

  • Roast in preheated oven until chicken is golden brown and a thermometer inserted in thickest portion of thighs registers 165°F, 1 hour to 1 hour, 15 minutes. Remove from oven; spoon or brush reserved basil-oil mixture over chicken. Cool in skillet 10 minutes, and carve. Serve with onion and peppers in skillet.

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