For most of the year, I hold to the notion that what grows together goes together, especially when it comes to mingling things on a sheet pan.
Springís tender greens and shoots; summerís juicy zucchini and tomatoes; fallís pumpkins and Brussels sprouts; winterís dense roots ó itís easy to come up with a harmonious dish within each season, in which all the vegetables roast at about the same rate.
This recipe ignores all that.
Although winter sweet potatoes are undeniably the focus here (along with ever-seasonal, stalwart chicken thighs), Iíve paired them with summery bell peppers, imported from who-knows-where.
Peppers give a burst of juicy sweetness not available from a root. Itís important to use red, yellow or orange bell peppers, the fleshier the better. Green ones donít have the sweetness needed to become profoundly caramelized.
Back in winterís root cellar, I also add red onion, in two different ways. In the first, the onion is roasted along with the peppers and potatoes. Roasted at high heat, red onions get crisp at the edges, providing textural contrast to all the luxurious softness.
I also add them raw as a garnish, quick-pickling them to add some tangy brightness to the mix. I use cider vinegar as the acid, tamed with a drizzle of honey.
As for that chicken, thighs are my preferred sheet-pan cut because they are forgiving in terms of timing. A few minutes more or less wonít dry them out. However, if youíd rather make this with chicken breasts, choose the bone-in, skin-on kind if possible, and watch them carefully. They cook more quickly than thighs, so remove them just as their juices no longer run pink when poked with a knife (150 degrees on an instant-read thermometer). Then leave the vegetables in the oven for a few minutes until they are thoroughly golden and tender.
Then set the table, uncork the wine and enjoy a not-perfectly-seasonal dinner.