home cooked dinners by the season

Three of my favorite fall dinners

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I love fall cooking. As much as I hang onto summer until the very last second, when I do finally let go, I’m excited about the changes it brings for cooking dinner in the cooler weather. In fact, I sort of liken it to changing out my clothing. I’m not going to wear a tank top in October or November just as I am probably not going to throw together a light salad. For that reason I put cooking and clothing in the same “season-type” category. I get tired of wearing the same clothes and cooking the same kind of foods for several months and I am ready for a change.

So bring on fall and the heartier and more substantial comfort foods. I’m ready and so I’m reposting several of my favorite fall recipes for a little inspiration: Rosemary Lemon Split Roast Chicken, Fresh Mozzarella Skillet Lasagna and Pan Seared Apple Pork. There’s a little something for everyone, with their common denominator being easy.

Rosemary Lemon Split Roast Chicken
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 (3-1/2 to 4 pound) whole chicken, cut in half (ask the meat department to do this for you or see the note below to do this yourself)
Instructions
  1. Whisk together all ingredients except chicken. Put each split chicken in a re-sealable plastic bag; divide marinade evenly between bags. Seal bags, removing as much air as possible and massage marinade around chicken to coat evenly. Refrigerate overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. convectional or 425 degrees F. conventional.
  3. Remove chicken from marinade, discarding marinade. Heat a large heavy bottom skillet (I use my cast iron skillet) over medium heat. Once heated, put chicken skin side down in the skillet and cook until browned, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a baking sheet or roasting pan, skin side up (chicken halves can be browned in two batches if using a small skillet; wipe skillet with a paper towel between batches). Sprinkle chickens with salt and pepper.
  4. Roast until chicken is browned, meat is cooked through and juices run clear (an instant reading thermometer when inserted in the meat should read 165 degrees F.) about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and allow sitting 15 minutes to “rest” (this allows the juices to settle in the meat so they don’t run out when chicken is cut). Cut chicken into pieces, following the outline of the leg, wing, thigh and breast.
Notes
To split a whole chicken into two halves:
I like to wear disposable gloves when cutting a whole chicken.
If there are giblets inside of the chicken, remove and discard or save for another use. Place chicken on a flat work surface, breast side down. Using kitchen sheers (scissors) or a sharp knife, cut closely along each side of the chicken backbone from one end to the other; save backbone to make chicken stock or discard. Turn chicken over laying it flat and with breast side up; cut evenly through the breast from one end to the other.

Skillet Lasagna with Fresh Mozzarella
Fresh Mozzarella Skillet Lasagna
 
Ingredients
  • 15 ounces ricotta cheese
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 pound Italian chicken sausage, cases removed
  • 3 cups Marinara sauce
  • ½ pound fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
  • 8 oven-ready (no boiling) lasagna noodles
  • ¼ cup shredded Parmesan
Instructions
  1. Stir together ricotta, water, salt and ⅓ cup Parmesan; set aside.
  2. Brown sausage in an 11 to 12-inch skillet over medium heat, breaking up clumps, until cooked through about 7-8 minutes. Stir in 2 cups marinara sauce (reserving remaining sauce for end of assembly). Reduce heat to low.
  3. Put 2 lasagna noodles on center of sauce and sausage mixture; break two additional lasagna noodles into pieces and fill in over the sauce to the edges of skillet.
  4. Gently spread the ricotta mixture over the noodles, spreading to edges of skillet. Lay mozzarella slices over ricotta, then arrange basil over mozzarella. Break remaining 2 noodles into several pieces and fill in to edges of skillet.
  5. Put 2 more lasagna noodles over cheese and basil; then break 2 additional noodles into pieces and fill in over the cheese to the edges of skillet. Pour remaining marinara sauce evenly over noodles, spreading to edges of skillet; sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup Parmesan cheese.
  6. Cover and simmer over low heat until noodles are soft, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow sitting 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

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Pan Seared Apple Pork
 
Ingredients
  • 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 lb pork tenderloin
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, plus more if needed
  • 1-1/2 cups thinly sliced sweet or yellow onion (1/2 medium size)
  • 2 cups thinly sliced apple (1 medium size)
  • ½ cup white wine, apple cider or chicken broth
Instructions
  1. Cut pork into 8 equal pieces (to make this easy to do, cut the tenderloin in half then cut each half into 4 equal pieces). In between wax paper or plastic wrap, pound each piece to ¼ to ½-inch thickness. Sprinkle one side with salt and pepper and thyme, patting thyme onto meat. Turn and repeat with other side. Brush mustard on one side of pork then dredge in flour, shaking off excess (pork can be prepared to this point and refrigerated several hours).
  2. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet; in a single layer add 4 pieces of pork and cook until browned, about 2 to 3 minutes. Turn and repeat cooking just until pork is cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes (remove one piece of pork and cut into it if you aren't sure it is cooked). Remove pork and keep warm. Wipe out skillet with paper towels and repeat process with remaining 4 pieces of pork.
  3. If necessary add 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the same skillet and add onions; cook and stir until softened about 2 to 3 minutes. Add apples and cook and stir until apples are softened and onions are lightly browned, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add wine and cook until simmering, stirring to scrape up any browned bits on bottom of the pan, about 1 minute or so. Season with salt and pepper then spoon apples and onions over pork.

 



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