Black Summer Truffle Pesto Roast Chicken

black-summer-truffle-pesto-roast-chickenA few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to attend Taste of London’s fabulous food and restaurant event in Regent’s Park. The weather was glorious and the event was well attended but didn’t feel crowded at all. Amongst all the Michelin starred chefs demonstrating on live stages and 5* restaurants selling taster sized portions of  their most loved dishes, were lots of producers, artisans and brands selling their wares. IMK July 2014I blogged about the event in this post  with lots of photos –  and promised to post a recipe using the new Black Summer Truffle Pesto which I bought from Sacla who had a stand at the event.

black-summer-truffle-pesto-roast-chickenThe pesto is amazing (if you like truffle) and I urge you to seek it out while it’s available as it may be a limited edition. Simply spread on toasted sourdough and topped with a poached egg, breakfast the next day was a little bit of  food heaven on a plate…

black-summer-truffle-pesto-roast-chickenI love to spatchcock chicken. Spatchcock is the term used to refer to cutting out the backbone which opens out and flattens the bird – it’s so easy to do, really cuts down on cooking time and makes carving very easy too. It also makes it very easy to separate the skin from the flesh so that seasoning,herbs, pastes or lemon slices can be stuffed under the skin, as the skin is no longer stretched taut over the flesh. My poultry shears have seen better days so I normally use my the heel and point of my sharp chef’s knife to cut out  the backbone. Skewering it is great if you are barbecuing and need to flip the chicken over a few times but when roasting in the oven, it is unnecessary. This is a brilliant video showing how to spatchcock a chicken, presented by the lovely Sarah Cook who also ran the Food Styling course I took at Leith’s a few years ago –

Do save the backbone by popping it in a bag and into the freezer – it does make a great stock when you add to the other chicken bones you have been saving. You don’t have to get fancy with a simple basic chicken stock for risottos, pastas or casseroles. I always strip any meat from a roast chicken carcass to save for quick suppers, salads and sandwiches. Then, I snap the leg bones and the carcass so that they will fit in a pot later  and put these in a freezer bag together with any roasted carrots, herbs and sticky bits (but not lemons as these make the stock bitter)  and in the freezer if not making stock straight away. Place (frozen) in a large saucepan with a lid, cover with water, bring to a gentle boil and immediately turn down the heat to as low as you can and simmer for 2 hours – one hour if you are pushed for time. Strain and use straightaway or let it cool and keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.


This is wonderful with some parboiled, crushed and roast new potatoes and a pile of green beans finishing with and a mustardy green salad to mop up the juices on the plate. I apologise for the quality and lack of more photos but it was getting late so the light was low and tummies were rumbling!

Black Summer Truffle Pesto Roast Chicken

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Print

Adapted from the Sacla website


  • 1 x 1.5 kg chicken – free-range or organic preferably especially if you are going to make a stock with the bones.
  • ½ jar of Sacla’s Black Summer Truffle Pesto (or whizz together some parmesan cheese, pine nuts and truffle oil into a paste)
  • unpeeled cloves from ½ a garlic bulb
  • Lots of sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 x lemon, cut in half and one half cut into 4 wedges
  • Salt and pepper
  • wine glass full of dry white wine
  • 50 g of finely grated parmesan cheese


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F.
  2. Get your roasting tin out. and place a good handful of thyme sprigs on it as a bed for the chicken.
  3. Remove ½ of the pesto from the jar and place it in a small bowl or plate – this will stop any contamination – something that I am a little obsessive about. Divide the paste into quarters to make it easy to use once you get going.
  4. Get a good pinch of sea salt onto a small plate and a good grinding of black pepper too – see note 2 about contamination!
  5. Spatchcock the chicken. Remove from packaging, undo the trussing or string and discard. Turn the chicken over onto it’s breast and cut along either side of the backbone, starting at the Parson’s nose (tail). Flip it over, open it out and with the heel of your hand, press onto the breasts, while you lean into it to give it some weight – this will help to flatten it out.
  6. Flip it onto it’s breast again and using your fingers, spread with ¼ of the truffle pesto. Season with a little salt and pepper and place onto the roasting dish.
  7. Starting at the neck/breast end of the chicken, using your fingers and hands, gently, being careful not to tear the skin, separate and ease the skin away from the flesh  – go all the way to the top of the legs. You will have to get your hands right under the skin – not great if you are squeamish!  Place half the truffle pesto on the flesh, under the skin and spread it as evenly as you can, as far as the  tops of  the legs. I find it easier to do one side of the chicken at a time. Pull and adjust the skin so that it is in place and covering the very top of  chicken  and wipe off any excess paste that is clinging onto your hands onto the chicken skin. Squeeze over the juice from half the lemon. Sprinkle on a little salt and pepper.
  8. Now go and thoroughly wash your hands. With hot water and soap and get someone to turn the taps on for you – did I mention I was obsessive about contamination?
  9. Scatter the unpeeled garlic cloves around the chicken. Dribble the cloves and the chicken with a little olive oil. Pour in the wine around the edge of the tin. and place in the oven. Set the timer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, turn the heat down to 180C/350F and continue roasting for another 20 minutes.
  10. Remove tin from the oven and turn up the heat to 200C/400F. Using a spatula, spread the remaining truffle pesto onto the skin and sprinkle over the parmesan cheese. Place back in the oven for 10 more minutes. Check to make sure that it is cooked through – no blood running in the section between the leg and the body and remove chicken and garlic to a serving plate, loosely covering with foil and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
  11. In the meantime, drain off any oil in the roasting tin leaving behind all the lovely juices. Place tin on the hob/stove top. Bring to a boil then simmer, scraping down the sticky bits from around the sides and bottom of the tin with a wooden spoon. Let this reduce until you have a enough for a little jus or gravy. If you are making green beans, get them on now.
  12. Serve with lemon wedges, parboiled and crushed roasted new potatoes, green beans and a salad. The caramelised garlic just pops out of their skins and is wonderful spread on the potatoes or bits of chicken as you eat.

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

64 thoughts on “Black Summer Truffle Pesto Roast Chicken

    • Try a little chicken stock – it’s just to keep things moist and so that there is some jus or gravy at the end…Also, it is worth bearing in mind that alcohol always evaporates when heated at high temperatures for 5 minutes or longer leaving behind only the flavour of the grape and the wine making process…I hope it’s useful!


    • Naina, if you watch the video, you will see how easy it is and wonder why you have never down it before!! You do need a really sharp knife or a pair of heavy sharp scissors. I do this all the time in the summer now…the chicken is just divine by the way!!


  1. Looks amazing and what a neat technique. I always hear about people spatchcocking chicken but as I usually buy chicken cut already, I haven’t yet tried this technique. I think your photos are great!


    • Ngan, you are so sweet to like the photos but they are grainy from the low light! Foodgawker will decline!! I really wanted to take more but I just had no time. Spatchcocking is so easy once you try it – the video really demonstrates how easy it is…


  2. I serve chicken at least 3 times a week. In every form and shape imaginable. I spatchcock (also shorthand for ‘dispatch the cock’), and other way around too (what is that called?) Always separate the skin to put the seasoning and cover it with the skin (I don’t eat skin unless it is crisp). Now I have to see if I can find myself a “black summer truffle pesto”. I can only imagine how tasty your this spatchcoked chicken is. :P


    • You are just so creative Fae! I don;t know how many you cook for on a regular basis but here it is just Jake and me. so a whole chicken will stretch to 3 or 4 meals depending on what I have pared the leftover meat with! Totally agree about the crispy skin and hope you can find the truffle pesto!


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  4. Lovely recipe, Selma. Nikhil would absolutely love it- he loves his truffle oil! You’ve explained the process of cutting the chicken so well. Also, I really like the word “spatchcock”. We always see these roast chicken recipes but have not tried them yet.. we are lazy and get deli meat if we really have to :p


    • Thanks Sandra! According to the Oxford Dictionary, Spatchcock refers to the splitting and frilling of small poultry or game – I wonder if that is how small chickens began to be referred to as spatchcocks? I find the development of language so interesting…Hope you can find the paste!


  5. Sooo delicious sounding this is. It must be a very delicious smelling bird while cooking with all that truffle! I just spatchcocked my first chicken a couple of weeks ago using another Brit’s guidance (Nigella Lawson). It was a resounding success and easy. The backbone is indeed in my freezer. Now I need to head over to your other post describing the event. How fun!


    • Glad to hear that you found spatchcocking easy, Sue. It’s just such a great way to cook a bird quickly and you can add much more in the way of seasoning too. It did smell rather gorgeous..


  6. What a great recipe Selma, and I loved taking a stroll with you around Regents Park :). The pesto sounds amazing, I can just imagine the heavenly aroma when the chicken was in the oven.


  7. You are torturing me with your recipe. After seeing this “chicken with Sacla’s Black Summer Truffle Pesto,” I just want to overnight the product!!!! This chicken looks SO mouthwatering, Selma. <3 <3 <3


  8. First time -finally- I’ve seen how to spatchcock the chicken, and I think I’m going to be doing it quite often as it looks like it saves so much time! Great recipe, thank you Selma, and the pictures are good- it looks yummy, no wonder you couldn’t wait any longer :)


    • Hi Emma, the weather has been amazing – when it is like this you kind of want to stay and enjoy it rather than go off to Spain or France! Hope you are getting the chance to enjoy it too! x


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