Woodbridge High Fall Season Three-Course Meal Recipe

Fall is a splendid season that can be represented by superb dishes


Brandon Foschetti

Whole Roast Chicken brings everyone around the table, with its crispy and golden skin, and the tender, white meat inside.

It’s that time of the year once again: the days are shorter, the nights are longer, and the leaves start changing color and then start to fall. However, the defining part of the season may be what’s on your plate.

There are many dishes that represent autumn, with many of them relating to Thanksgiving or based on the type of crops that are harvested during the season.

A bowl of fruit salad, with pineapple, strawberries, cantaloupe melon and honeydew melon, all tossed together with a drizzle of honey. (Brandon Foschetti)

Every good meal has a refreshing salad before the main dish, also known as the first course. There are a lot of salad recipes that are just right for the season, but there are some that are easier to do than others and could ultimately be much better. A fruit salad is a good example. It’s a simple dish to make, with any fruit a person wants. Such fruits could be strawberries, pineapples, melons and cantaloupes. To bring out the flavor of this salad, add a bit of honey; it is a great way to add sweetness while maintaining the flavor of this dish. 

As for the main dish, roast chicken is a great choice for a gathering between friends or family. This dish is never a bad option for such scenarios since it “is one of those timeless recipes that for many symbolizes warmth, comfort and home,” said on today.com by Erica Chayes Wida.

Roast chicken can either be prepared on the more complex side to play with different flavors, such as a tangy or a smoky flavor. On the other hand, there could be more simply to make it easier yet maintain the delicious taste of the dish, such as just roasting the chicken with only a marinade. It’s always fun to try different flavors and different ways to cook something. Marinades, for example, are a great way to improve the taste of a dish such as chicken, 

Marinades have a wide range of flavors, from tangy to sweet and everything in between. If a person is unsure of what marinade to use for a roast chicken, buttermilk is always a great option; it keeps things simple and gives so much depth and flavor to the dish. 

One key factor of marinating chicken is time: the longer you marinade the chicken, the more tender and tasty the meat will get. However, be aware that there is a limit for how long you can marinade chicken before it goes bad. According to carnivorestyle.com, the time frame for an entire chicken ranges from four hours to 48 hours.  

If using buttermilk to marinate a whole chicken, the frame of time can affect the chicken’s tenderization. 

“Because buttermilk is only slightly acidic, it is capable of tenderizing chicken without toughening up the meat like stronger marinating acids do (lemon and vinegar, among others),” said on sweetishhill.com by Gerardo Gonzalez.

After marinating the chicken, it has to go to an oven. Preferably, preheating the oven at 450° Fahrenheit (230° Celsius) is ideal for roast chicken, however, ovens are different, which affects the amount of heat required. Before moving the chicken into the oven, tie the legs of the chicken together, this can either be done with a string or by cutting a hole into one of the legs and inserting the other leg inside of it. This will help to cook the legs better since they are the toughest part of the chicken to cook. 

After preheating the oven for 15 minutes, lower the temperature to 425° F (218° C) and insert the chicken. Make sure the legs are facing towards the back of the oven, this is helpful since that is where the most heat is produced. Additionally, place the chicken towards the left side of the oven first and then move it to the right side of the oven, this is not necessarily but it does help since there is a change of temperature each time the chicken is moved; this will ensure that the chicken is not overcooked (if the oven is not big enough, a person can also lower the temperature of the oven.) Leave the chicken for about 50 minutes, with 25 minutes for each side of the oven.

Lastly, always make sure that the chicken is well-cooked, which is more for health reasons rather than for optimal flavor. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), roast chicken should be at a minimum of 165° Fahrenheit or 73.9° Celsius. When checking the temperature of the chicken, use a food thermometer and stick it in the thickest part of the thigh of the chicken, but do not touch the bone. If it’s not within the ideal temperature, put the chicken back into the oven until it reaches an appropriate temperature.  

A major issue that can come about from eating undercooked or raw chicken is salmonella: a bacterial disease that affects the intestinal tract.

Towards the end of the three-course meal, there is only one thing remaining; dessert. One of the most popular ingredients for desserts during autumn is pumpkin since it is harvest season. 

“Fall is harvest season for pumpkins and other hard-shelled winter squash like butternut, acorn, and spaghetti squashes. These squashes are in the same family as zucchini, cucumbers, and melons. Pumpkins are technically fruits because they have seeds, but they are closer to a vegetable nutritionally,” said on sweetishhill.com by Justin Shelton.

Not only is this due to the fact that it’s in harvest season, but the history and connection it has to Halloween and Thanksgiving also play a role in pumpkins’ popularity as an ingredient for fall recipes.

“Hundreds of years ago in Ireland, Halloween tradition involved carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns in order to scare the evil spirits passing away through the Irish farms, since then it has become a vegetable synonymous to the festival, which is mostly celebrated by Americans,” Shelton said.

Additionally, pumpkin is related to Thanksgiving because it became a tradition for Native Americans to bring pumpkins to the settlers as gifts, and they showed them how to cook and prepare pumpkins. The first Thanksgiving was held between the tribe of Wampanoag and the Plymouth Colonists in New England, according to thefactsite.com.

There is a lot of variety when it comes to making desserts with pumpkin, such as pumpkin cake roll or pumpkin cupcakes, but one of the most iconic pumpkin desserts is the famous pumpkin pie. Generally, it is a fun and easy dish to make.

A staple tradition of Thanksgiving supper, a golden pumpkin pie brings warmth and comfort to end off the meal right. (Brandon Foschetti)

If doing it from scratch, the crust only takes some ingredients that are easily found in any grocery store: one and a fourth cups of flour, two tablespoons of sugar, unsalted butter, half a teaspoon of salt and a fourth of a cup of ice water. However, there is also pumpkin pie crust already pre-baked if a person wants to speed up the process of making a pie. 

First, mix all the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl with a whisker or put the dry ingredients into a food processor. After all the dry ingredients are mixed, cut the butter into squares, make sure they are not too thick, they can be about ¼ of an inch. Add it into the mixing bowl or food processor and mix. While mixing the butter, add some of the ice water little by little. The dough will be ready once it’s moist and sticky. Wrap the dough and save it on the fridge for a minimum of one hour, as is said on gimmesomeoven.com.

 For the filling of the pie, these ingredients will give the pie a remarkable pumpkin taste: two cans pumpkin puree, two cups of white sugar, three eggs, two tablespoons of flour, two tablespoons of cinnamon, half a tablespoon of nutmeg, half a tablespoon of ground cloves and half a tablespoon of salt. Of course, more ingredients can be added if one desires. Mix all the ingredients together until the texture of the filling looks like a heavy liquid. 

Take out the dough, unwrap it and put it on a surface covered by flour. With the help of a rolling pin, make the dough flat until it becomes thin. Take the dough and place it on a pie plate. If there is any excess of dough, take it out. While making the shape of a pie, a person can be creative in many ways, such as making a pattern with the edges of the pie or by adding stripes of dough on top. Add in the filling to the dough on the pie plate and preheat the oven to 425° F (218° C) for 15 minutes. Insert the pie for 10 minutes at the same temperature and then lower it to 350° F (176.6° C) and leave it for one hour. 

Pumpkin Spice Latte, or PSL, is a go-to pick-me-up for a Starbucks drinker, but it can easily be replicated at home. (Brandon Foschetti)

After one hour, take out the pie and let it chill for another hour. If the filling of the pie looks a bit liquid after taking it out of the oven, place it back into the oven for another 15-30 minutes.

Last but not least, what is a nice meal without a good drink? It is only fair to have a fall-inspired drink if we are already in the season. Anything can be good, but a pumpkin spice latte sounds just right for the occasion. It can be as easy as a regular decaffeinated coffee with pumpkin coffee creamer, pumpkin pie sauce, whipped cream and pumpkin spice on top.

All of this together makes a delicious three-course fall inspired meal. Try it out!