An ordinary chicken can be transformed really simply by putting pesto beneath the skin before roasting. With its smoky-sweet yellow pepper sauce, I find this an ever-popular dish for serving to family and friends at Sunday lunch. Accompany with new, sautéed or roast potatoes and a green vegetable.
Gently loosen the chicken skin by gradually easing your fingers between it and the flesh. If you are careful you can loosen the skin over the legs as well as the breast. Spoon the pesto sauce under the skin, then press the skin down on top to spread the sauce evenly over the flesh. Leave at cool room temperature for 1 hour before cooking.
While the bird is cooking, cut the pepper in half, remove the seeds and stem and put the pepper halves under a hot grill, skin-side up, until blackened. Then wrap them in a plastic bag or tin foil and leave to cool. When cool, peel off the skin, put the pepper into a food processor with the stock and sherry vinegar and whizz until it is as smooth as possible.
Slice the basil leaves thinly across. Cut the chilled butter into small pieces and put it back in the fridge.
When the chicken is ready, turn off the heat, open the oven door
© 1997 Josceline Dimbleby. All rights reserved.