Baked Pesto Chicken with Blistered Tomatoes
An easy weeknight dinner that can be prepped in advance, tossed in the oven and used to make lunches for the rest of the week. Store bought pesto is one of the easiest flavor enhancers that I keep in my refrigerator year round because you can do so much with it, in this recipe we make a compound butter which can be made up to 6 months in advance if you store it in your freezer! A simple and delicious, affordable family meal.
4-6 chicken leg quarters, or a combination of bone in breasts, with the skin on (bone in skin on chicken works best for this particular recipe because it keeps your chicken moist and the crispy skin is a nice treat for dinner every now and again, you’ll remove the skin when you re-purpose it because after it is done being crispy it is no longer delicious!)
3 tbsp. softened butter
2 tbsp. prepared pesto
Crushed red pepper (optional, I like a little spice in mine)
Salt and Pepper to taste
3 Tbsp. Parmesan Cheese
2-3 large handfuls cherry tomatoes or as many or few as you want (optional, but super delicious)
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, this makes for a much easier clean up.
In a small bowl add the softened butter, prepared pesto, optional crushed red pepper, salt and pepper and mix together.
Pat your chicken quarters dry and pull the skin away from the meat gently, spoon approximately 2 teaspoons in between the meat and the skin of each chicken piece. With the remaining mixture rub the outside of the chicken skin and the underside of the meat. Season the exterior of the chicken with salt and pepper and place on the foil lined baking sheet.
Before you put the chicken in the oven, sprinkle the top of the chicken with your grated Parmesan cheese.
Add the optional cherry tomatoes on the free space of the pan.
Bake for 35 minutes, and increase the temperature of the oven to 425 for the remaining 10 minutes. Bake your chicken until the internal temperature is 165 degrees, I ALWAYS check bone in chicken with a meat thermometer because like I said, no one wants salmonella!
You can make this butter with an entire stick of butter and 4-6 tablespoons of prepared pesto, form into a log and wrap in plastic wrap and store it in your freezer for up to six months and cut off portions as you wish to use them. Compound butters are a phenomenal way to add flavor to ANYTHING, you can cut off a tablespoon of pesto butter from the frozen portion and toss it with steamed vegetables, or mix it into your mashed potatoes for a pop of flavor, even top a steak with it!
Once the left over chicken is cooled, I like to remove the skin and remove the chicken from the bone so that I can use it to top salads or to make chicken salad. I will feature this recipe in my lunch time re-do coming up next!