The Autumn Kitchen

This time of year one starts to think about packing up the barbecue for the season, but that’s OK because autumn is all about roasting in the oven. To celebrate this fact, the November 2006 issue of Châtelaine magazine is featuring “Nos 32 meilleures recettes d’automne” (“Our 32 best autumn recipes”).

Oh my. Some of them look really good, and most are focused on easy methods and seasonal, local ingredients. So I’ve decided to make some of those dishes over the coming days and weeks.

On Saturday night I made the roasted chicken with rosemary and a mustard-maple sauce (with a few slight modifications of my own). Very delicious, I must say, especially when coupled with the big pan of vegetables that I oiled and herbed and roasted along with the chicken (potatoes, carrots, onions, zuccini, yellow bell pepper, and even a bit of celery).

Tonight, after a hard day of yard work, it was a roasted pork loin “parmagiana,” which is to say it was enrobed in bread crumbs, rosemary, parmesan cheese, garlic, and a bit of salt and pepper, and roasted in a pan with some olive-oiled cherry tomatoes. I served that with some “polenta fries” (basically, last week’s polenta cut into fingers and fried in deep pan of olive oil). It too was a resounding success, as you can see below.


Next up – perhaps as soon as tomorrow – will be the tarte aux pommes et au cheddar vieilli (apple pie with old cheddar cheese). That’s basically an open-face apple tart (it looks like a pizza) but with an underlayer of old cheddar cheese. It too has a bit of rosemary in it (rosemary is the new basil) as well as cinnamon and even a bit of peach jelly.

I don’t often make deserts, and I almost never make pies. But we do have an enormous bag of apples after yesterday’s picking, so hey.

Later in the week I hope to make the roulade de dinde (turkey roll, with feta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and olives), since we didn’t have turkey for Thanksgivings and because I have a pack of sun-dried San Marzano tomatoes in the pantry crying “eat me! eat me!”

Good news: if you can read French, the recipes are online, here. (Although they don’t include my personal variations and finesses. For example, I put a touch of demi-glace in the mustard-maple sauce for the chicken, and I completely skipped the nonsense with the aluminum foil for the pork loin.)

8 thoughts on “The Autumn Kitchen

  1. As we live in the heart of “Pick-Your-Own-Apple” land, Pointe Calumet and neighboring Saint-Joseph-du-Lac and Oka, we tend to be non-participants. The time frame is more of a bother to us with the ridiculous increase in traffic. On Monday, we chose the path less taken and headed for the town marina. While others were hauling their boats in for the season, we put in with the canoe and “picked-our-own” fish, catching a dozen fat Perchaud (Yellow Perch) for an imminent Sunday fish-fry brunch just off shore of Oka Beach.

    We managed to salvage the turkey carcass from dinner at the out-laws on Sunday and rounded out our day of fishing with a hearty Turkey w/Rice and Veggie Soup.

    Ed, don’t be in such a hurry to stow the BBQ! Nothing says invigorating like basting burgers on the back porch in January!

    BTW, your polenta looks positively perfect. I’ve never acheived that color and apparant “skin” crispness.

    Happy Fall Cooking!

    Laurie & Harry

  2. Oooo. That chedder apple tart sounds good. I was thinking apple pie, but that sounds like something to try out with all those apples we picked at St-Benoit-du-Lac yesterday.

  3. Harry, I’m not big on BBQing in bad weather. Too messy! Besides, my cast-iron grill pan (coupled with an industrial strength range hood) provide a pretty good “plan B” for grilling:

    The polenta was pretty golden. The trick is (I think) really hot oil, just below the smoke point (which for olive oil is not actually that hot — maybe 350 degrees). Also, there’s some parmesan cheese in the polenta — that might have helped it brown a bit. The hardest part was keeping them from sticking together!

    Frank, take a picture of yours and I’ll take a picture of mine!

  4. I use a non-stick pan, which is probably redundant given the amount of oil involved. But any good quality sauté pan would work. I made about a dozen “fries,” each (as you can see in the photo) about 1/3 inch thick (more than 1/4 inch, less than 1/2 inch). That’s another trick — don’t make them square, make them rectangles, and fry the flat sides.

    I used about 1/2 cup of oil, so it was about 1/4 inch deep in the pan. It gets deeper as you add the polenta because of displacement.

    One of the reasons to use a sauté pan is because of the sloped sides. When the oil is that hot it bubbles and splatters like crazy when you add the polenta, so I slide it down the slope (facing away from me) one piece at a time. Then I use a wooden spatula to keep the pieces separate while they fry for about 3 minutes per side. Flipping them is another exercise in circus acrobatics.

    After dinner I pour off the oil and put it in a jar in the fridge marked “polenta.” You can re-use the oil a few times (three times?) which makes it seem less wasteful. If your oil is nice and hot, you’ll find you only lose about 2 tablespoons per use. That’s not bad — when you subtract the oil that’s absorbed when you drain the “fries” on a paper towel plus what splatters around the stove, and what remains in the pan, you realize that the fried polenta only delivers a bit more than a teaspoon of oil per serving.

  5. … in retrospect, next time I make them I’ll bump it up to a full 1/2 inch thick, as that nice soft center is kinda tasty…

  6. Oh, one more thing. Just to be clear, those pieces were cut from a slab of cold polenta about an inch deep.

  7. I’ve got a roll in the fridge – Yup, I’m a polenta cheater. I will defintitely give your tecnique a try.

    Once again, I urge you to reconsider on outdoor BBQ-ing. Made for some very nice honey/lemon/olive oil marinated Mahi-Mahi Steaks and grilled veggies last night! Why, I can recall late June evenings on “The Rock” that were cooler than this once the sun started setting and fog rolled back in.

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