Let’s pretend – let’s pretend our family dinners are Donna Hay perfection. Let’s pretend our family meals aren’t at the mercy of whatever I’m testing that week. Let’s pretend my family are not my culinary guinea pigs and I’m not asking them for feedback every 2.5 milliseconds.
But, seeing as I don’t have kids and I’m not married, our family meal is more of a “Modern Family” take — less Stepford perfection and more screaming nephews running in circles, if you will. It’s a meal where everyone pitches in and though it always seems to come together last minute it’s never as haphazard as it might seem.
Though it’s not very perfect or planned, family meal is a bit of a religion in our house — so, rain or shine, a few times a month, my siblings and I get together with our parents for a proper meal. Sure, it doesn’t sound like rocket science but it’s a lot of scheduling that could, in some circles, might warrant its own postgraduate degree.
So when I tell you I’ve found a keeper for Family Meal — a recipe that’s universally pleasing, pretty easy to make, and still exciting for the adults — well, I mean it’s seriously a keeper. One such creation that went over particularly well was this Baked Chicken with Pistachio-Jalapeño Pesto — it’s easier to pull together than it is to arrange our schedules and has a lot of fans in our parts.
Baked Chicken Breast with Jalapeño Pesto Recipe
- 1/2 cup olive oil plus 2 tablespoons, divided, plus more for garnish
- Kosher salt and Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 head garlic (about 10 to 12 cloves) smashed and skins discarded
- 2 limes juiced and divided (about 6 teaspoons)
- 1 medium yellow onion finely chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth or water
- 4 boneless, skinless fresh chicken breasts about 3 pounds
- 1/2 cup roasted, salted shelled pistachios
- 1 small jalapeño seeds discarded roughly chopped
- 1 cup fresh mint leaves
- 2 green onions (aka scallions) trimmed and thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese plus more for garnish
- Make The Chicken Marinade: Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Combine 1/4 cup of the olive oil, a pinch of salt, a few cranks of pepper, all but 1 clove of the garlic, 4 teaspoons of the lime juice, onion, wine, and broth in a blender or food processor and process until very smooth.
- Place chicken in a large (about 13-by-9-inch) ovenproof baking dish, season with a few pinches of salt then pour the garlic mixture on top and cover with aluminum foil.TIP: Chicken can be prepared up through this step up to 8 hours ahead. Store refrigerated in an airtight container until ready to bake.
- Bake The Chicken: Place dish into oven and bake for 15 minutes. Pull back the foil and baste the chicken by spooning the garlic mixture over the chicken. Cover the dish with the foil and return to oven and continue to cook, basting the chicken every 15 minutes. Bake until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear when pierced with a sharp knife, about 45 minutes total. Meanwhile, make the pesto.
- Make The Jalapeño Pesto: Combine the remaining olive oil (about 1/3 cup), pistachios, jalapeño, remaining clove of garlic, remaining 2 teaspoons of lime juice, and a pinch of salt in a small food processor and pulse until coarsely ground.
- Add a pinch of pepper, the mint, and half of the scallions, then process until well combined but finely ground and not totally smooth. Add a splash of water and the cheese and pulse to just incorporate (you want the pesto to remain pretty loose and to have a finely ground texture -- it will not be totally smooth). Taste and add more salt or pepper as desired. TIP: Pesto can be made up to 4 days ahead of time. Store refrigerated in an airtight container until ready to use.
- Serve the chicken topped with a large dollop of pesto, a pinch of the remaining scallions, and drizzle with a little olive oil.