Philacatessen | Perfect Autumn Dinner

Photos by Keri White

As the air chills and the days shorten, we begin to crave warming, homey, comfort foods.

Roasted chicken is the quintessential comfort meal — and it is quite simple to make. The addition of seasonal roasted veggies means a low-stress dinner for the cook and one that can provide meals for an additional day or two in the form of salad and/or soup.

As for the chicken, I’m a fan of brining — this infuses flavor and moisture into the bird and keeps it juicy. But if you don’t have time to brine the day before, never mind. Just roast the chicken as directed and reap the benefits.

The vegetables are as simple as they come, and the leftovers are great tossed in salad tomorrow.

Autumn Roast Chicken

Serves four with leftovers

1 roasting chicken, about 6-8 pounds

For the brine:

1 palm full of kosher salt (smaller than a handful)

1 palm full of sugar

Generous sprinkling of garlic powder

Generous sprinkling of black pepper

Enough cold water to cover chicken

For the roast:

1 small onion, peeled and cut in half

1 half lemon

1 handful fresh herbs or a palm full of dried herbs (any one or a combo of thyme, sage, rosemary, marjoram)

2 tablespoons crushed garlic

1 cup white wine

  1. In a large pot with a cover, place the chicken, along with the brine ingredients. Place the pot in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
  2. Remove the chicken from the brine, rinse and place it on a rack on a roasting pan. Heat your oven to 350 degrees.
  3. In the chicken cavity, place both halves of the onion, the half lemon, garlic, herbs and wine. (The wine will leak out bottom into pan; that is fine.)
  4. Roast the chicken for 20 minutes per pound until done, when the skin is crispy and browned and the internal temperature at the thigh is 180 degrees.
  5. Allow the chicken to rest, tented with foil, for about 5 minutes. Slice and serve.

Autumn Roasted Vegetables

Serves four with leftovers

In general, I refuse to peel vegetables, but sweet potato skin is tough and detracts from the deliciousness of the tuber.

Put these in the oven about an hour before the chicken is expected to be done and pull out a glorious fall feast.

3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks

3 white potatoes, cut in chunks

3 delicata squash, stemmed, seeded, and cut in semi-circles

2 tablespoons oil

Generous pinch salt

Generous sprinkle pepper

  1. On a large, rimmed baking sheet, place the vegetables; toss to mix.
  2. Drizzle the vegetables with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss again.
  3. Roast for about an hour until done; the vegetables will begin to brown.


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