Home Cooking: Three autumn dinners
I have to admit, I felt a twinge of jealousy when I saw that Montana received 2 feet of snow last weekend while we have red flag high winds and dry conditions. I know, I know, the aspen leaves are at their golden glorious peak. I had a guest in town and we went for two hikes to enjoy the beauty of woods before the leaves were blown away.
Still. I’m itching for colder weather and at least the first dusting of snow. With that in mind, I have three dinner recipes that you can pull out of your back pocket now or as soon as the weather turns colder.
They are impressive enough to invite friends or neighbors over for a dinner party, yet easy enough to allow you to enjoy your guests. In fact, the pumpkin pasta sauce and roasted chicken can both be prepared a day in advance and reheated. The paella is quick and easy and can be ready in 30-40 minutes. Enjoy a glass of wine with your guests while you prepare the paella.
Roasted Maple Rosemary Chicken with Colorful Root Vegetables
1 roasting chicken
A variety of root vegetables, such as:
3-4 multicolored young carrots, peeled, tops trimmed
3-4 Red and gold beets, peeled and quartered
2 red onions, outer skin removed, quartered
Brussels sprouts, bottoms trimmed
Fingerling or sweet potatoes, halved
Acorn squash, cut into half-moon slices
2-3 fresh rosemary sprigs
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Maple Rosemary Butter:
1 stick butter
2-3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon southwestern seasoning
1 sprig rosemary, leaves removed
Process all ingredients in a food processor or mash together in a small bowl
Into a large Dutch oven or baking dish, place the chicken skin side up and surround the bird with peeled carrots, quartered beets, onions, Brussels sprouts, and any other hearty root vegetables you’d like to use. Sprinkle the vegetables with extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.
Next, separating a pocket of skin from the chicken breast underneath, slide a tablespoon of flavored butter into the pockets on each side of the breast, then rub the surface of the breast with the rest of the butter. Use a few pieces of butter to dot the top of the vegetables.
Roast in a preheated oven at 375 degrees until the chicken breast skin is browned, about 30 minutes. Baste the chicken and vegetables with the juices and melted butter at the bottom of the pan, then cover the Dutch oven with its lid (or the baking dish with aluminum foil) and allow the chicken and the vegetables to braise in the cooking liquids approximately 30-45 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender to the point of a knife. This method will keep both the bird and the vegetables incredibly moist and the vegetables will retain their bright autumn colors. It can be prepared a day or two before and reheated.
Easy Paella with Shrimp and Chorizo Sausage
1/2 onion, diced
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups arborio rice
4 cups chicken stock
12 ounces frozen shrimp
12 ounce chorizo sausage
1 package frozen peas
In a shallow covered Dutch oven, sauté the onion and then the sausage in extra virgin olive oil, then add the rice and butter. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour in stock and saffron threads. Bring to boil, stir in shrimp, cover and cook on low for 25 minutes, until all liquid is evaporated. Stir in frozen peas. Cover and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
Pumpkin and Chorizo Sausage Pasta
1 pound ground chorizo sausage (you can also use Italian sausage)
1 onion, diced
1 15-ounce can plain pumpkin purée
1 apple, diced
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup cream or half-and-half
1/2–1 teaspoon smoked paprika
3 garlic cloves, diced
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large frying pan cook the chorizo sausage. When it’s almost fully cooked add in the onion and garlic and continue to cook. Add in the pumpkin purée, the chicken stock, the spices and the cream. Stir everything together and if the sauce seems too thick you can thin it out with more chicken stock and then adjust the seasonings. Serve over your favorite pasta.
Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson’s column “Home Cooking” publishes biweekly on Thursdays in the Summit Daily News. Anderson taught herself to cook after college when she discovered dinner parties were a cure for loneliness. Her latest cookbook is “A Year in the Mountains Cookbook.” She has lived in Breckenridge since 2016. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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