I've made roasted chicken a hundred ways. All of them produced delicious chicken. That's one of the great things about roasting a whole bird - you really can't go wrong. There are so many recipes out there, each one more complicated than the next. I remember spending fifteen minutes chopping fresh herbs, mixing those herbs with softened butter and garlic, and then carefully spreading it under the skin of the bird. Then I made slits all over the bird, stuffing it with the mixture. Was it good? Heck yeah, it was good. But, it was way too complicated. The truth is, roast chicken should be a weeknight meal. It shouldn't take much time to make or make a mess of the kitchen.
A few years ago, I took a few cooking classes at ICE in New York City. My chef/teacher told me the best way to make chicken was to salt it, then let it sit in the fridge, uncovered for 8-24 hours. Stuff it with lemon, onion, or whatever you want. Then, roast it. It will be the best roast chicken you will ever have. And he was right. The reason it is so good is because the chicken has a chance to absorb all salty flavor, so the meat is delicious. Even better, the skin dries out from the salt and becomes extra crispy and delicious. If you blast it at high heat to start, the chicken skin becomes perfection.
Once, I had a large dinner party and I decided to serve 2 different versions of roast chicken. One I lovingly based with herbs and creme fraiche. The other I salted. The salted one was the favorite. Which I just think shows that when it comes to cooking, simple is often better.
The best roast chicken:
1 whole chicken (3 to 4 pounds)
Sliced lemon, onion, herbs etc... (whatever is in the fridge).
Remove innards from chicken. Save them for other use. Take at least 3 Tbs. of kosher salt and salt the inside and outside of the bird. Stuff with whatever you have in the fridge. Let it sit in a dish, uncovered, in the fridge for 8-24 hours.
Remove from fridge. Cut up carrots, onions, potatoes if you like. Place in bottom of roasting dish and toss with salt and pepper and herbs (such as parsley or thyme). * There is no need to add olive oil, because your vegetables will baste in the fat rendered from the bird.
Roast in preheated oven at 475 degrees for 20 minutes. Lower heat to 350 and roast for additional 45-60 minutes, until temperature at thickest part of the thigh is 165 degrees.
Let rest for 10 minutes. Slice and serve.