Saturday, July 3, 2010

Walnut-Pesto Crusted Chicken

The first time I made this, I had run out of pine nuts. I've never been a fan of swapping anything out when it comes to pesto, I'm a bit of a purist. Why mess with perfection? However, when it's time to make dinner and my stomach won't tolerate a trip to Trader Joe's, I'll make due with what I have (I'm drawing the line at arugula pesto though). Anyway, it ended up being an awesome happy accident when I used the extra the next day to marinate a chicken breast and it yielded the yummiest, nuttiest crust imaginable. I've made it again and again.

Walnut-Pesto Crusted Chicken

1 bunch of basil (approximately 4 cups)
1 c walnut pieces
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
3 cloves garlic
3/4 c good olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 whole farmer's market chicken cut up into 4 pieces

You're going to need a food processor for this. It's possible to do it in a blender but you'll need to use more oil or you'll burn out your blender. Classic pesto is made with a mortar and pestle. If you're ambitious enough, save the energy and go for it.

Place garlic, walnuts, Parmesan and basil in food processor.

Give the food processor a few pulses to combine all the ingredients.

It should look like this.

Then while the processor is turned on, drizzle the oil in slowly and once it's incorperated add salt and pepper to taste.

Mouth party.

I like my pesto on the thick side. More flavor with less oil. For this recipe it's important to make your pesto thick so that the chicken doesn't end up too greasy. It's great on pasta too.

Pat the chicken dry and put it in a bowl or zip lock bag.

Add 1/2 to 3/4 of the pesto, just enough to completely coat the chicken.

Toss the chicken in the fridge and let it marinate from a few hours to overnight. When it's time to eat, take the chicken out and place it in a baking dish. Make sure there is a nice coating of pesto on the top of each piece of chicken. Place in a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until the juices run clear. Be careful not to overcook the chicken.

You're welcome.

If you care to, while the chicken is resting, you can take the juices and olive oil from the baking dish and saute up some zucchini.

The Husband used to work for the Lakers. He knows everything about basketball and loves the Lakers like I love cheese. We normally don't eat in front of the TV but since I made this meal on the night that the Lakers won the championship, we made an exception. I had a glass of red wine and he had a big fat slug of Oban Scotch Whisky.

We had seconds.

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