It seems so unfortunate to me that autumn here in the high desert means hot, dry, and windy weather. The rest of the country is battening down the hatches, while we sweat it out, or literally combust into flames. Fall colors here come in the skies, as smoke drifts over the mountain tops in crimson and brown, obscuring the landscape and clogging our lungs. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this fire season, as we call it, is fleeting, and that cooler weather will come soon.
I have a serious case of autumn envy. I always have. So I manufacture my own fall. While the temperatures outside still say summer, my home is stubbornly decorated with the sights and smells of an east coast autumn, thanks in part to my mother-in-law who ships me goodies like bittersweet vines and Cape Cod cranberries. And as long as we open the windows early in the morning, my house stays cool all day. I am shocked when I go outside, dressed in pants and a sweater, only to be slapped with the stark reality that it really is going to be 90 degrees today.
My appetite is piqued by glossy magazine photos of steaming bowls of chili, home baked bread and roasted turkeys. Even though the weather still seems to mandate cooking outdoors, I'm as stubborn with my cooking as I am with my decorating. So I will ignore the heat, and cook foods that seem like proper autumn fare. Tonight we will enjoy roasted chicken with rosemary and potatoes. And if we eat late enough, and open the windows again, it may cool down enough to put my sweater back on.
Roasted Lemon Chicken with Rosemary and Lemon
1 3-4 pound chicken
1 lemon, cut in half
about 10 new potatoes, quartered (red or yellow are fine)
2 shallots or one yellow onion
6 cloves of garlic
6 sprigs of rosemary
salt and pepper to taste
splash of white wine
Preheat oven to 400°
Wash and cut potatoes and place in 13/9 inch pan. Quarter shallots or onions and place in pan along with garlic cloves (you can leave the skin on). Salt and pepper generously and drizzle with olive oil. Toss gently with hands.
Remove gizzards from chicken, rinse chicken and pat dry. Push potatoes into a ring on the edges of the pan and place chicken inside it. Squeeze lemon juice from one half of the lemon on top of the chicken and place both lemon halves inside the cavity. Drizzle chicken with more olive oil and salt and pepper generously. Using scissors, snip rosemary over potatoes and on top of chicken. Place a few sprigs inside cavity and tuck one under each wing.
Place in oven and bake for 15-18 minutes per pound. Internal temperature should measure 170° in the breast and 180° in space between the body and thigh when done. Remove potatoes to serving bowl and chicken to platter to rest, covered with foil, for 15 minutes.
Place pan over flame (medium heat) and add a splash of white wine to scrape up any baked on bits. Reduce juices a bit. Drizzle over carved chicken. If you wish to thicken the sauce, make a slurry of flour and water and slowly wisk into pan juices to make a gravy. Simmer for a few minutes more until thickened.