Fall is a great time for food– not saying, of course, that the other seasons are not. These past few days of grey skies, cooler air, and lots of rain, have begged for warming home cooked meals, and some of my favorite autumn ingredients are likely to do just the trick. In Vermont I always looked forward to the vegetables that started coming into season right when we went back to school (and fruits, I can’t forget the apples!) But carrots, beets, turnips, and parsnips, along with onions, fennel and winter squashes are some of the most hearty and tasty ingredients to work with for fall dishes.
There are many ways to prepare root veggies, but my favorite way to prepare them is by roasting them. One of the easiest ways to prepare these vegetables for a quick weeknight dinner, is to roast them in the oven with a small (4-6 lb) chicken. The best (and most simple recipe) I have found for a foolproof chicken dinner is Ina Garten’s Recipe for “Perfect Roast Chicken.” I added turnips, red bliss potatoes, and butternut squash to my vegetables. Parsnips could also be really nice. As long as you cut them uniformly, these veggies have pretty similar cooking times, and should cook evenly– so I recommend experimenting with whatever looks good at the farmer’s market. I used a Whole Foods Organic Free Range Chicken. Also, look for great fresh local poultry at the Union Square Farmer’s Market (sells out fairly quickly, especially on Saturday mornings).
I cooked this chicken tonight… but once again forgot to take a picture. Hopefully I’ll remember to photograph some of the leftovers ideas!
Ina Garten’s Perfect Roast Chicken
1 (5 to 6 pound) roasting chicken
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large bunch fresh thyme, plus 20 sprigs
1 lemon, halved
1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, melted
1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced
4 carrots cut into 2-inch chunks
1 bulb of fennel, tops removed, and cut into wedges
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Remove the chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pin feathers and pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the bunch of thyme, both halves of lemon, and all the garlic. Brush the outside of the chicken with the butter and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Place the onions, carrots, and fennel in a roasting pan. Toss with salt, pepper, 20 sprigs of thyme, and olive oil. Spread around the bottom of the roasting pan and place the chicken on top.
Roast the chicken for 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove the chicken and vegetables to a platter and cover with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes. Slice the chicken onto a platter and serve it with the vegetables.