Smitten Kitchen's Harvest Roast Chicken with Grapes, Olives, and Rosemary

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[Photograph: Deb Perelman]

Oven-roasted chicken pieces make for a speedy and soul-satisfying cool-weather dinner. Deb Perelman's method in The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook is easy enough to throw together for a weeknight meal.

The chicken parts (of your choice; it's cheapest to cut up a whole chicken yourself) are first browned to crisp the skin and then shoved into a 450 degree oven surrounded by grapes, olives, and thinly sliced shallot. The whole pan is finished cooking lickedy-split (about 20 minutes or so), and then a super simple pan sauce is made from the drippings. It's a simple method, but it works wonders on each element; eaten alongside the chicken-fat slicked olives, the grapes are transformed from sweet snack to luscious garnish.

Why I picked this recipe: Roasted grapes are having an "it" moment these days, and I can't seem to get enough roast chicken this fall.

What worked: The grape-olive combo dresses up this weeknight roast chicken recipe into one elegant enough for a romantic Sunday evening or a small dinner party.

What didn't: I'm not a huge raw rosemary fan, so I'd add it to the pan sauce while reducing it next time.

Suggested tweaks: Changing much of anything here would completely alter the essence of the recipes; that said, Perelman encourages you to choose the cuts of chicken you like best and states that the recipe works just as well with a range in quality of grapes and olives.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook to give away this week.

About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer out of Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American and blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.

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