The clocks skipped back today, shifting the season for good. Afternoon light faded as I worked my hands into the chilly cavity of a chicken, and we prepared the oven for a roast.
It was the perfect evening for the bird. We'd picked it up from Paskamansett Farms in Dartmouth several weeks before, frozen solid beside its two sister birds.
When a turkey arrived from the same fields this morning, there was squawking in the freezer. Packed solid, it showed something had to go. With Sunday evening looming and no dinner in sight, the carefully packed chicken got the first ticket out.
It didn't help the bird's cause that a rotisserie sat, unused, in our beloved new oven, just itching to be used. I left the meat to thaw and returned hours later to find it ready to dress. Rubbing the meat with olive oil, salt, pepper, and fresh cut rosemary, I allowed it to sit while I rummaged around for twine. Rope offered the next best option, and so around the bird it wound.
With the oven hot, we stuck the bird between the hungry jaws of the spit and watched it begin to spin. Slowly, with excruciating appeal, it began to turn. Dripping fat and sizzling skin filled the oven, and we settled in to wait.
An hour or so passed; potatoes were mashed, salad whipped up, a jar of beach plum-cranberry chutney pulled from the pantry. Red wine was poured, gravy made, and stuffing pulled from the oven. Finally, brilliantly, the bird emerged from the oven. It was mouthwatering in its perfection, perfectly cooked on all sides, and wonderfully browned. The smell filled the dining room and we dug in to enjoy an old-fashioned Sunday supper.
ROTISSERIE CHICKEN with ROOT VEGETABLE GRATIN
Wash a 5-8 pound chicken with cold water. Drizzle with olive oil, and rub with salt, pepper, and rosemary. Tie wings in close to body; spear onto rotisserie. In a large Pyrex pan (big enough to fit beneath the bird and catch drippings) toss 1 large beet, peeled and diced, 1 apple, diced, and 1 lb. winter squash, peeled and diced, and 1 cup torn bread with salt, pepper, rosemary, and olive oil to taste. Place pan beneath chicken on floor of oven, and turn on rotisserie. Let cook 1 to 2 hours, or until meat and vegetables are cooked through and tender and bird skin is brown. Remove meat from oven, place on serving platter, and allow to rest 15 minutes before serving. Enjoy alongside vegetables.