This recipe, from Roast Chicken and Other Stories (Ebury Press, 1994) by Simon Hopkinson, also comes with a helpful tip: After roasting is completed, turn off the oven, leaving the door ajar, and leave the chicken to rest for at least 15 minutes before carving. This enables the flesh to relax gently, retaining the juices in the meat and ensuring easy, trouble-free carving and a moist bird.
4 oz. good butter at room temperature
1 4-lb. free-range chicken
Salt and pepper
Several sprigs of thyme or tarragon, or a mixture of
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
1. Preheat the oven to 450°. Smear the butter with your hands all over the bird. Put the chicken in a roasting pan that will accommodate it with room to spare. Season liberally with salt and pepper and squeeze over with the juice of the lemon.
2. Put the herbs and garlic inside the cavity, together with the squeezed-out lemon halves—this will add a fragrant lemony flavor to the finished dish.
3. Roast the chicken in the oven for 10–15 minutes. Baste, then turn the oven temperature down to 375° and roast for a further 30–45 minutes with further occasional basting. The bird should be golden brown all over with a crisp skin and have buttery, lemony juices of a nut-brown color in the bottom of the pan.