Whether you have fresh herbs or dried herbs on hand, this roasted chicken can be made throughout the year on any day of the week. The herbed butter can be prepared a couple days ahead; just let it sit at room temperature before you decide to roast your chicken.
Putting the herbed butter underneath the skin of the chicken does require a gentle and patient touch- you mustn’t tear the skin. I wouldn’t fret if you can’t get the butter underneath all (or none) of the skin of the chicken. You chicken will be just fine.
If you don’t know how to truss a chicken, this video is really helpful. I will admit, I don’t always truss my chickens as perfectly as the chef did in the video. I usually just tie the legs together with butcher’s twine and use some poultry pins / toothpicks to keep the wings on the side of the bird, and call it a day. This step is not entirely necessary, but it does allow the chicken to cook evenly and it makes it look more presentable. If you haven’t any butcher’s twine, use unwaxed dental floss instead.
Basting the chicken with the pan juices, and rotating the pan seems like an unnecessary chore, but it allows for the chicken to get beautiful color while it’s roasting.
1 whole chicken (5 ½ pounds / 2.5 kg)
½ cup / 113g / 4 oz unsalted butter
1 lemon zested, and halved
1 ½ tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped / 1 ½ teaspoons dried, crushed
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, chopped / 1 teaspoon dried, crushed
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly cracked pepper.
1 small onion, peeled and quartered for stuffing, optional
Sea salt for Sprinking on top of chicken after it’s roasted (pref. Maldon / Fleur de Sel)
Preheat oven to 375F / 190C / Gas Mark 5 with rack in middle.
Discard chicken giblets. Remove any excess fat from around the cavity of the chicken, and discard. Rinse the chicken and pat it thoroughly dry, inside and out.
In a medium mixing bowl, mix together the butter, lemon zest, thyme, rosemary, oregano, salt, and pepper.
Rub the entire bird- inside and out- with the butter.
If you have the patience and dexterity, gently loosen the skin from around the chicken and rub some of the butter underneath the skin. Not everyone is made for this job, so if you’re not up to this, or fear that you’ll tear the skin, you can skip this step; your chicken will be perfectly fine. I promise.
Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the lemon halves and the quartered onion (Kamran note: if you want, you can also throw in a few sprigs of the fresh herbs and a head of garlic cut in half crosswise).
Truss the chicken (refer to headnotes).
Roast the chicken in a large flameproof roasting pan, basting with pan juices every ½ hour, rotating the pan. The chicken is done when it is browned all over, and the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh, or an instant-read thermometer inserted in the chicken’s breast reads 155F / 68C and the drumstick reads 180F / 82C. This should take about 1 hr 50 mins.
When the chicken is cooked, remove the chicken from the baking tin and leave it to rest on a large plate or platter, covered with aluminum foil, for at least 10 minutes before carving.
Sprinkle with sea salt, to taste, and the remove string from around the chicken before serving.