Simple Roast Chicken

Here’s my recipe for a simple roast chicken, adapted from my book “Cooking Meat”. It’s a soul-warming dish that works perfectly on these cooler autumn nights.

Serves 4

1 (3½ pounds) whole chicken
Salt and pepper
1 lemon
1 bulb garlic, unpeeled
2 bay leaves
½ bunch thyme
1 cup butter, at room temperature

  1. Preheat the oven to 450˚°F. Have a roasting pan with an elevated roasting rack ready.
  2. Season the chicken quite liberally with salt and pepper. Using your fingers, take a healthy pinch of salt and let it fall like snow all over the chicken. Repeat with the pepper.
  3. Cut the lemon in half widthwise, juice one half over the chicken, and stuff the other half into the cavity. Slice the whole bulb of garlic widthwise and put both halves into the cavity. Push the bay leaves and thyme into the cavity too.
  4. Using your hands, rub the butter all over the chicken, massaging it into the crevices and putting a healthy coating over the entire bird. Set the chicken breast side up on the roasting rack. Roast the chicken for 15 minutes, then, without opening the door, turn the oven down to 350°F and roast for another hour.
  5. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. It should read 160˚°F to 165°F. (If not, return the chicken to the oven for 5 to 10 minutes more and check again.) Turn the oven off, keep the door closed, and leave the chicken inside for another 15 minutes. This will allow the chicken to rest and the internal temperature to rise to about 165˚°F.
  6. Remove the chicken from the oven and carve. Arrange the meat on a serving platter. Strain the delicious roasting juices from the pan through a fine-mesh sieve into a gravy boat and pour it over your platter of carved chicken.

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