“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers” – L.M Montgomery
Autumn is far and away my favourite season, and I always particularly enjoy these last few late October weeks of it, when all the colours and smells intensify, and the light jumps and the nights are dark; when winter is close but not yet here.
It’s almost overwhelming, and it reminds me of a video we watched several times in primary school around this time of year, which had a BBC children’s TV actor asking a bus driver the strange but rather deep question ‘Can you go to autumn?‘
This query never seemed completely foolish to me – autumn makes familiar landscapes completely new and surprising again in the same way that snow does: in the countryside, views of the landscape are deepened and trees made discrete by sudden splashes of colour, and the city is just as changed as the countryside, with deep piles of papery leaves from the London plane trees on every corner.
I love all of it; even (or perhaps especially) the suburbs, with their seedheads, and their miniature maples and their pumpkins. Back inside, I can’t help but cook brassicas, braises and roasts; autumnal flavours and fragrances to keep the immersion on.
WHISKEY & PEAR ROAST CHICKEN
Serve with mashed potato, wilted winter greens and mustard alongside, and make sure everyone gets some of the gorgeously carmelised pears and hazelnuts with their chicken for the perfect autumn dinner.
1 chicken, 1&1/4 kilo
3 firm pears
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1 bulb garlic
Heat oven to 190°c and set the chicken out so that it comes up to room temperature. Melt the butter and mix with the whiskey, then baste the chicken with the mix. Season with salt and pepper and poke some sprigs of thyme and rosemary around the bird. Slice the pears in half and nestle around the bird, along with the halved bulb of garlic and the hazelnuts. Roast for around 80 minutes (re-basting halfway), or until the juices run clear when the thigh is pressed with a skewer and the joints feel loose. Leave it to rest with foil over for it for around ten minutes and then serve.