I saw this chicken recipe recently posted by my friend Mari at Once Upon a Plate. Mari writes one of my favorite blogs. If you've never visited her blog, pour yourself a beverage and settle in, you're in for a treat.
My favorite way to prepare roast chicken is a time consuming process that requires at 8-24 hours, but sometimes time is limited and a quick technique like this one by Marcella Hazan is in order. It just doesn't get much easier than this - one chicken, two lemons, and a little salt and pepper. That's it, and you end up with the most wonderfully juicy and delicious bird. Let's walk through to process.
Aside from a clean, dry, and seasoned-with-salt-and-pepper chicken, you'll need 2 lemons, a toothpick, and an oven-safe roasting pan like this cast iron number. I lined my pan with a parchment circle as suggested by someone online, but I won't bother next time - Marcella's recipe states it isn't necessary.
Okay, roll each lemon on the counter; pressing firmly to get the juices flowing (allow lemons to come to room temperature for the best results). Then poke each lemon 20 or so times with the toothpick and place both lemons, whole, right inside the cavity of the well seasoned bird. Use the toothpick to hold the cavity closed.
Use a little kitchen twine to tie hold the legs together. The chicken will plump up as it roasts and if you skip this step the bird will won't have a very "polite" presentation on your table. Now, into the roasting pan BREAST SIDE DOWN (no oil or butter needed). Roast at 350F for about 30 minutes.
Then flip the bird over so the breast is facing up and increase the oven temp to 400F. Continue to roast until the bird is done (about 20 minutes for each pound), or until the internal temperature in the thickest part of the thigh reaches 165F.
Note: I didn't realize the recipe called for a 3-4 pound bird until I had already purchased a nearly 7 pounder, but I adjusted the cooking time accordingly (as directed above) and it turned out fine. The full recipe can be found here. I reserved the pan drippings and carcass to make homemade chicken stock.