Sunday, October 5, 2008

A Fall Feast

I had some friends over for dinner tonight, and I wanted to put together something simple but seasonal. Fall is my absolute favorite season, the weather is beautiful and the air just smells cleaner.

I made one of my favorite looks-more-impressive-than-it-is meals: Roasted chicken and vegetables. Then I threw in a side of smashed butternut squash and a mixed green salad with toasted pecans and craisins. The table was a riot of fall colors. And the best part is while the meal cooked, I had plenty of time to clean up before my friends got here.

I am also proud to say I made my first bread, garlic knots! I kneaded the dough and everything (Thursday night, well in advance). I was inspired by the yummy recipe Katie posted on her food blog last week. I pretty much followed her instructions, but I substituted half of the all purpose flour with whole wheat, trying to be healthy. They were pretty good, but I think the wheat flour sacrificed some of the fluffiness. But my conscience felt better.

And for dessert: hot apple cider=fall.

And a special thanks to Taylor, who took pictures for me while I scrambled to get everything on the table.

Roasted Chicken and Vegetables

The chicken was amazingly moist because I let it brine in the refrigerator for over 24 hours. Osmosis works wonders! And the fresh herbs and citrus were great, simple, fall flavors.

For the chicken and pan sauce
3-5 lb. whole chicken
brine (4 tbs. salt+water, enough to cover chicken)
handful fresh thyme
handful fresh rosemary
1 orange, cut in quarters
1 cup red wine
1 cup chicken stock

For vegetables
12 small "confetti" (colorful) potatoes
3 carrots
4 scallions
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 tbs. fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
1 tbs. fresh thyme
olive oil

-Brine chicken in a covered bowl or pot in the refrigerator for 4-24 hours.
-Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
-Rinse chicken, pat dry. Place in roasting pan. Brush skin with melted butter, put some under the skin as well. Season inside and outside of the bird with salt and pepper. Stuff the cavity with thyme and rosemary then with the orange pieces.
-Place on the middle rack of the oven and cook for 15 minutes. Lower the temperature to 375 and cook for another 45-60 minutes. The chicken is done when the internal temperature of the bird is 170 degrees.
-Remove from oven. Let the chicken rest for 10-15 minutes on a platter under foil before serving. That keeps all the juices in.
-Put the roasting pan on the stove top and skim off most of the fat. Add cup of wine. (This is a rough measurement, it depends on how much juice from the chicken is already in the pan. The sauce should look somewhat purple.) Simmer until the sauce is reduced by half. Add cup of stock. Simmer until reduced by half again.
-Once the chicken is in the oven, cut potatoes and carrots into big chunks. Keep them all relatively similar in size so they cook evenly. Remove the root end and the skin from the shallots. Toss potatoes, carrots and shallots in a bowl with enough olive oil to lightly coat them. Add salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme and toss. (Use a generous amount of salt.)
-Put the vegetables in a baking dish in the oven about 45 minutes before you think the chicken will be done.


Claire said...

I ate this!

Anonymous said...

What a FAAABULOUS menu! It looks just wonderful! I LOVE LOVE LOVE the look of the big roast flanked with colorful veggies on that beautiful platter! YUM!!