Autumn almanac…


Autumn almanac...

I was going to call this Autumn is cumin in…but that was just too naff…so as the Kinks were on the i pod it ended up as you see above…and this dish is everything that is good about autumn…it is lightly spicy..courtesy of the cumin…it is wonderfully colourful (the squash simply exudes bonfires and mellowness) with a regalia of autumnal colours, yet still with the lingering flavours of a Med summer, courtesy of the peppers. Tonight’s supper is in many ways, thanks to Nigel Slater – no he did not drop round and cook with me – sadness pervades – but I was curled up in front of the fire reading his Kitchen Diaries 2, the October section, and I was just inspired to cook something redolent of autumn – and to use up the half of butternut squash that was whistling dixie in the fridge.

So, I peeled the squash, and cut it into chip like strips, then cut up one long red and one long yellow pepper into similar size strips. Popped these on a baking tray with 5 or 6 cloves of unpeeled cloves of garlic. Then drizzled all with olive oil and a good sprinkling of cumin seeds.

The chicken thighs I places on another tray and scattered each with lemon thyme salt and olive oil. I then took some rather pleasant new potatoes and cut them into chips, and bathed them in vegetable oil.

I put the pepper / squash tray into the top oven at 200c and the chicken and the potato chips into the bottom oven, same temperature, for 40 minutes. The congruity of these ingredients must also be remarked upon – because they all kindly cooked at more or less the same time.

I drained the potato chips, drained the chicken jus into a pan, then added the potato chips  to the chicken thigh tray and popped them back into the oven – turning the heat off;  the skin of the chicken was deliciously crispy by now. I removed the peppers / squash tray and left them on a rack to wait patiently for their moment. I added a little chicken stock and hot water to the jus to make a zingingly tangy salty jus that would compliment the whole dish perfectly.

I removed the chicken thighs from the oven, added the squash. pepper and garlic to it and served it at the table. Jus was drizzled over by request.

The flavours were phenomenal – simple as that – the cumin wedded with the butternut squash was mouth-fillingly vibrant.
The whole ensemble was simple, cheap and autumnal – colour wise – flavour wise and fragrance wise.

I felt so relaxed and mellow after eating this – it hit all the spots in the right order and, along with a smoky South African Merlot, reminded me why I am alive. Oh, and thank you Nigel for the inspiration!


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