¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter or extra-virgin olive oil
1 3½–4 lb. whole chicken
Freshly ground black pepper
optional: Rosemary twig
Arrange a rack in the center of your oven, and preheat to 425°. Cut 1 lemon in half crosswise and remove any visible seed
Cut 1 head of garlic in half crosswise.
Melt ½ stick butter in a small saucepan or microwave in a small bowl.
Pat chicken dry with paper towels. It’s important to get the chicken as dry as possible, which helps with browning.
With chicken breast facing up and legs pointing toward you, use a sharp knife to slice through loose area of skin connecting the leg and breast, making about a 3″-long incision. Continue cutting downward until you hit the joint that connects the thigh to the body, then stop. This exposes the leg joint, making it easy to tell if chicken is cooked. Repeat on second side.
Season the entire chicken, including skin along backbone, inside cavity, under wings, and inside part of the leg you just exposed, with lots of salt and pepper.
It should be about 4 pinches or 4 teaspoons of salt.
Transfer chicken breast side up to a large oven-safe skillet. Arrange lemon and garlic cut sides down in skillet around chicken.
Drizzle chicken all over with melted butter and place in oven.
Roast until chicken is nicely browned and cooked through, checking for doneness after 45 minutes. When juices run clear, the chicken is done.
Let chicken rest in skillet for 15 minutes before carving so that the juices settle.
Place pieces of chicken on a large platter and pour buttery pan juices all over chicken before serving.
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