Lemon Herb Baked Chicken with Pesto Brown Rice

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Sunday dinner…what could be better than a slow, lazy Sunday afternoon with a full belly? But who wants to spend all of their time in the kitchen on said lazy Sunday? That’s why this meal is good for make-ahead prep.
First, I usually make my brown rice on the weekend whenever I have a spare few minutes. If I’m waiting on a load of clothes in the washer, I’ll throw in a bag of rice on the stove and have it cooking in the meantime. If you’ve ever cooked with brown rice, you know it takes a while to get soft. No one likes crunchy rice! Yes, you could stick with the quicker cooking white kind, but then you’d miss all that nutty flavor and extra fiber you get from this product.

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I cook my rice in either vegetable stock or chicken stock that I make from scratch. See this post for details!
This recipe includes pesto in the rice for a little extra umph! You can get the recipe for that here. If you don’t have time to make pesto, you can always buy a jar from Amazon or your local grocery store. But the homemade version is so much brighter, with fresh basil and lemon to tingle on your taste buds!
So, now on to the chicken. It really couldn’t be easier, but this crispy skin tastes sooooo good. The texture makes all the difference.

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Some advice I would give for the chicken is to never skimp on the herbs. Unfortunately, a lot of people buy their herbs from the grocery store and they come in these little packs with about four leaves. Seriously! That’s not enough to flavor an entire chicken!

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If you want to really pack a punch, would suggest growing your own herbs. It’s easy. Trust me. I used to have the brownest thumb in the South. But then I figured out, hey, actually pay attention to your plants and water them every once in a while! Herbs are very forgiving and can also be grown inside on your windowsill year round. You can get started with herb seeds here.
Now, let’s see how easy this dish is to make!

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Happy cooking,
Ashley
Recipe for…Lemon Herb Baked Chicken
1 whole fryer chicken, 4-5 lbs
2 tbs olive oil
4-5 sage leaves
8-10 basil leaves
3 tbs thyme leaves
3 tbs parsley
1 lemon
1 tsp salt
Coarsely chop all herb leaves. You may use the parsley stems as well, but discard all the other stems. Preheat oven to 350 F. Wash chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Place in roasting pan. Salt the inside of the bird with about ¼ tsp salt. Stuff half the herbs inside the chicken. In a separate bowl, combine olive oil, herbs, zest of one lemon, and juice of half a lemon. Baste the chicken with this mixture on both sides. Position bird breast side up and stuff the lemon half that was squeezed for juice into the bird. Bake at 350 F for approximately one hour or until a cooking thermometer reaches 165 F at the thickest part of the thigh, but not touching the bone.

Recipe for…Pesto Brown Rice
5 cups vegetable stock
2 cups brown rice
½ tbs salt
1 recipe Lemon Basil Almond Pesto
Bring vegetable stock to a boil in a medium sized sauce pan. Stir in brown rice and salt. Cover and reduce to medium low for 40 minutes. Stir once or twice during cooking time to make sure rice doesn’t stick to bottom of sauce pan, but do not over stir! Remove from heat and stir in pesto sauce.

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