I've fought with whole chickens repeatedly over the past few years. I tried everything from simple sauces to complicated sauces, spice rubs with long ingredient lists, specific instructions for when and how to flip the bird mid process. Not only was I over-complicating the heck out of a simple roast chicken, I was stressing myself out! I was using multiple pots, racks and tools and all I needed in the end was a baking sheet.
I finally decided to stop looking for the perfect roast chicken recipe and simply try a method that has proven reliable for roasting other meats. A basic combination of spices and oil is all this herb rubbed pork roast requires and it gets rave reviews every time I make it. Why shouldn't that work with a roast chicken? I used a mixture of fresh rosemary and dried thyme, because that was what I had on hand. I often use sage or herbs de Provence with my chicken marinades, so those would likely be great in the mix as well.
Trussing: Take it or leave it. If the legs are sticking out too much, you can pull them together a little bit using kitchen twine. (I ignore them, if they aren't sticking out very much.) Pulling them together prevents them from over-browning and/or cooking too quickly. Trussing is done mostly for aesthetic reasons, so it's up to you.*
Cooking times: When I'm cooking meats in the oven, I usually take them out of the refrigerator up to an hour before I'm going to cook them. This way the meat isn't super cold going into the oven. It will cook a little faster and the times are more predictable.
How To Roast A Chicken
Yield: 4-5 servings
1 whole chicken, about 3 pounds
2 tablespoons dried or fresh herbs of your choice, chopped small (I used rosemary and thyme)
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons oil
1 small lemon, halved
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and move the oven rack to the middle of the oven. Line a baking sheet with foil. Combine the herbs, salt, pepper and oil in a small dish and stir to combine. Rinse the chicken and pat it dry with paper towels. Set the dry chicken on the prepared baking sheet. Use your hands to rub the oil and spice mixture all over the bird. Place the chicken on the foil, breast side up. Insert the lemon halves and the garlic into the cavity of the chicken.
Roast for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. If your chicken went into the oven still pretty cold from the refrigerator, it will probably take another 15 minutes or so. (For every pound over 3 pounds, you'll need an additional 15-20 minutes cooking time.)
When the bird is deeply golden brown and the skin starts to look crispy, it is done. You're looking for 165 degrees in the meaty part of the thigh. Remove from the oven and let the chicken rest for at least 15 minutes before serving. If you cut into it earlier, the juices won't have a chance to distribute fully through the meat and they will drain out onto the cutting board. Enjoy!
* For what it's worth, I cooked this chicken without trussing. I only tied the legs after it was cooked, in the interest of a more traditional picture.