The cool, crisp air has begun to change the colors of the leaves. It smells like fall, and that smell always triggers very vivid memories for me. Growing up, the woods was where I spent a lot of my time so I became very aware of the smells of the different seasons. One fragrance in particular was the smell of wild grapes, which I was introduced to by my dad while we were upland bird hunting in the woods surrounding Lake McDonough in Barkhamsted, CT. I must have been around 10-12 years old at the time. That nostalgic scent of wild grapes always brings me right back to that point with my dad.
Fall always brought excitement for me because I hunted a lot growing up. I enjoy being outdoors in the cool weather. And, I enjoy the changing of the locally available seasonal ingredients, much like the spring brings on the asparagus, fava beans, ramps and morel mushrooms. In the fall we get apples, beets, celery root, figs, cranberries, cabbage, broccoli rabe, most other wild mushrooms (except morels), pumpkin, etc. The hearty stuff! A time for soups, stews, and foods roasted in the oven. Whether it is fall cleanup/ yard work, hunting, fishing, hiking, football or anything else done outside in the cool air, there is nothing better than that hearty meal.
One of my favorite big meals to make is roasting a whole chicken over seasoned, diced potatoes and sweet potatoes. I made this last night for my wife and I (with a little extra for the week). We also had it with a fresh, back yard-garden tomato salad…
Roasted Chicken over Potatoes
Prep Time: 15 Minutes or less
Cooking Time: Roughly 2.5 hours
2 Whole, Air chilled (good quality, organic, free-range) Chickens
5 White Potatoes (chopped, roughly 1 inch cubes)
4 Sweet Potatoes (chopped, roughly 1 inch cubes)
1 Head Garlic (skinned,minced)
1 TBSP Honey
1/3 Cup Canola Oil
Herbs: Rosemary, Thyme, Dry Mustard
Method of Prep
1. Dry off chickens (inside and out) with a paper towel, the drier the better. Let sit out on the counter for about 20-30 minutes to allow the temperature to come up closer to room temp. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Wash and chop potatoes. Put them into a mixing bowl. Add oil, honey, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper. Adjust seasoning to preference. Toss and incorporate seasoning well. Turn onto a foil lined sheet pan and spread evenly.
3. Truss chicken. If unsure how, tuck the ends of the wings behind the back pointing inward and tie the feet together with butchers twine. Liberally season on all sides with salt, pepper, and dried herbs if you like.
4. Lay the birds breast up on top of the potatoes, with the legs pointing in the same direction. Place in the oven with the legs toward the back of the oven.
5. In roughly 45 minutes or so, when the chicken begins to turn golden brown, turn oven down to 375F.
6. To check when the chickens are done, insert a thermometer into the meatiest part of the thigh between the breast and leg (you should feel the bone). Chickens are done when the thermometer will read 155F.
7. Remove from the oven when internal temp is 155F and let rest for 10-15 minutes. During this time, the internal temp will reach 165F. The resting period will also allow for the juices to settle, keeping the meat moist.
If the chickens are of good quality, this is one of the tastiest “one pot meals” simply because the potatoes end up cooking in the drippings of the roasted chicken. Good luck finding a more tasty piece of roasted potato!