Serve this tasty and easy baked chicken with potatoes and a tossed salad. Use a quartered chicken, thighs, leg quarters or whole legs, or split breasts to make this tasty recipe.
If you have fresh basil consider making your pesto from scratch. It's easy and tastes better than store-bought. See the easy-to-follow instructions for a basic homemade basil pesto and spinach pesto variation below the recipe.
- 1 chicken, about 4 pounds, quartered, or about 4 pounds of chicken parts
- 4 tablespoons prepared pesto
- 4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
- juice of 1 lemon, or about 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Line a 9-by-13-by-2-inch baking pan with foil and then lightly grease the foil.
Trim excess fat and remove the skin from the chicken, if desired. Sprinkle the chicken pieces lightly with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper and place in the prepared pan.
Combine the pesto, garlic, and lemon juice; rub the mixture evenly over the chicken pieces. Cover the pan tightly with foil and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.
Heat the oven to 375 F.
Remove the foil and drizzle the chicken breasts lightly with olive oil. Bake in the preheated oven for 55 to 65 minutes, or until chicken is cooked. Juices will run clear when chicken is pierced with a fork. The minimum safe temperature for chicken is 165 F (USDA Guidelines).
Sprinkle with shredded or grated Parmesan cheese and continue baking for about 2 to 3 minutes longer.
Optional Homemade Pesto
Homemade Basil Pesto - Combine 2 cups of fresh basil leaves and about 1/3 cup of pine nuts in a food processor. Pulse 5 to 7 times to chop the basil finely. Add 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese and 2 teaspoons of chopped garlic and pulse 4 or 5 times more. With the processor running, add 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil in a steady stream. Transfer the pesto to a bowl. Taste and add salt and freshly ground black pepper, as desired.
Store fresh pesto in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for about 1 week. If you won't be using the pesto right away. A thin layer of olive oil drizzled over the pesto will keep if looking fresh and bright.
Freeze homemade pesto -- without the cheese -- in an airtight freezer bag or container for up to 6 months. Add the cheese before using.
Spinach and Basil Pesto - Follow the recipe above, but use half spinach leaves and half basil leaves.
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