This is a good trick: stuff pesto and breadcrumbs under the skin to protect the chicken breast from drying out, and you also infuse it with warm peppery basil.
Heat the oven to 200°C/Gas 6. Wash the chicken breasts and pat dry. Combine the pesto and breadcrumbs in a small bowl to make a thick paste, adding a little olive oil if it’s too dry.
Work your fingers in between the skin and meat to create a space, leaving the skin attached at one end or along one side. Stuff the pesto mixture under the skin to cover the breast, carefully draw the skin back over it, and reshape.
Heat a non-stick fry pan, add 1 tbsp oil and sear the chicken skin for a minute or two until lightly golden, then place the chicken skin-side up on a baking tray and drizzle with remaining olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt and pepper.
Bake for about 20 minutes, depending on size, until cooked through. Rest for 5 minutes before serving, with a rocket or watercress salad.
© 2002 Jill Dupleix. All rights reserved.