Roast Chicken with Lemon
This recipe creates one of the best smelling kitchens you'll ever know.
1 high-quality roasting chicken (about 4-5 lbs., organic free-range chickens are ideal)
2 lemons, scrubbed, dried and quartered
4 cured anchovy filets (optional)
2-4 sprigs fresh thyme
Sea salt to taste
Fresh ground pepper
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Move the rack to the lowest position in the oven.
Remove and save the giblets (the liver, heart, etc., inside the cavity, if present); rinse the chicken under running cold water and pat it dry. For the crispiest possible roasted skin, put the chicken, uncovered on a rack in a pan, in the refrigerator for a few hours and up to a day.
Season the cavity of the chicken with generous amounts of salt and pepper. Place the giblets, anchovies, lemon wedges and thyme inside. Truss the chicken or just close the cavity by threading a wooden skewer through the skin flaps.
Coat the outside of the chicken with the softened butter and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
On a rack in a roasting pan, place the chicken on its side. You may want to put about 1/2-inch or so of water in the pan to prevent smoke caused by the drippings from the chicken. Tip: if the chicken is having trouble staying on its side, use balls of aluminum foil to prop it up. Roast it uncovered for 20 minutes. Then, using wads of paper towels to protect your hands (which you will use to turn it throughout the roasting process, so don't discard until the end), turn the chicken to its other side and roast for 20 minutes more. Next, turn the chicken breast side up and roast for another 20 minutes. Tip: if you're unsure about which is the breast side, search for pictures on the Internet or feel for the spine, which is on the opposite side of the breasts.
Finally, reduce the oven to 375 degrees. Turn the chicken so the breast side is facing down, ideally with the tail higher than the neck (this allows the dark meat juices to drain into the breast meat and moisten it). Continue roasting until the internal temperature of the thigh is 165-175 degrees when measured by an instant thermometer, about 15 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the oven and sprinkle more salt and pepper on it, to taste. Remove to a carving board (make sure it can handle the inevitable juice run-off). If you prize crispy skin, rest the chicken breast-side up. If you want to maximize the juiciness of the breast meat, rest the chicken breast-side down, with the tail above the neck. Let the chicken rest for at least 10 minutes.
After carving the chicken, remove the lemon wedges and squeeze their juices over the carved meat. Enjoy!
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