Pesto Chicken with Basil Cream
8 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
8 (1-ounce) slices prosciutto or ham
1/2 cup pesto
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
INGREDIENTS for Pesto:
1 cup tightly packed fresh basil
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
INGREDIENTS for Basil Cream:
1/4 cup chopped shallots
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup dry white wine
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, halved and patted dry
1/4 cup shredded fresh basil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2-1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
For pesto: Remove stems from basil and wash leaves thoroughly. In a food processor, blend basil, garlic, pine nuts, pepper and Parmesan cheese until smooth. With processor running, add oil through the food chute in a slow steady stream until combined. Set aside.
Place each piece of chicken between 2 sheets of waxed paper and pound to 1/4-inch thick. Place 1 slice prosciutto and 1 tablespoon pesto in the center of each breast and spread across the whole piece. Roll breast up from the small end and secure with a wooden pick. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons lemon juice. Place in a covered dish and refrigerate overnight.
For basil cream: Saute shallots in butter until translucent. Add wine and bring to a boil. Cook for 2 minutes or until liquid is reduced to about 1/4 cup. Add cream and return to a boil. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until sauce is reduced to approximately 1 cup. Whisking constantly, add tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in basil and lemon juice and cook until heated. If a thicker sauce is desired, combine cornstarch with water and stir into the cream mixture while boiling.
Let chicken stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before grilling. Combine olive oil, garlic, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and pepper. Grill chicken over medium coals for 15 to 20 minutes or until done, turning and brushing occasionally with olive oil mixture.
The chicken may also be baked in a 350-degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes. Coat first with olive oil, garlic and pepper and cover with foil before baking.
Serve with basil cream, garnished with fresh basil if desired. For an eye-catching effect, slice breast halves into 5 or 6 pieces and fan onto a bed of pasta.