This is my go-to version that I have slowly perfected over the years. The butter mixed with shallots, lemon zest, garlic and herbs gives a ton of flavor without having to pre-brine the bird. Since it is rubbed under and on top of the skin it keeps the breast meat super moist and crisps up the skin perfectly. In fact, the skin on this bird is so good that I would eat that alone as a whole meal if I could.
You can easily switch up the herbs used in the compound butter, but I really prefer rosemary with my chickens. It is uber-fragrant and pairs nicely with the lemon.
A little secret about the bird in the picture below: I purchased it at the greenmarket from a stall I haven't bought chickens from in a long time. The legs were already bound by the flap of skin at the back end, so I didn't even think to check the cavity for "the extras" that sometimes come in poultry. I cooked it and pulled it out when it was perfectly browned and tender, let it rest for a few minutes, then started to carve it. As I got to the part of the breast meat nearest the center, it was still raw. Damn. Figured out why when I finally checked the cavity to find the neck, livers and gizzards. So out they came and back into the oven the chicken went. Not exactly the setback you need when your mouth is watering over the scent and sight of such a lovely bird. So don't forget to check the cavity of your chicken first before beginning!
The Best 'Sunday Dinner Chicken'
1-- 3.5 lb. whole chicken
4 TB butter, at room temperature
1 TB chopped shallots
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 t. chopped rosemary
1 t. chopped thyme
zest of 1 lemon
1 lemon, sliced
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Mix together the butter, shallots, garlic, rosemary, thyme and lemon zest.
Using your fingers, separate the skin from the breast of the chicken. Rub some of the butter mixture underneath the skin. Then rub the rest of the butter mixture all over the outside of the chicken. Put the lemon slices inside the cavity (making sure to clean out any neck/livers/gizzards that are in the cavity first). If I have a bit of leftover shallot I like to toss this into the cavity as well.
Sprinkle a good amount of seasoned salt all over the chicken. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and fresh ground pepper. Place the chicken into a baking dish and put into the preheated oven.
Cook until the juices on the chicken run clear and a thermometer inserted in the thigh reaches 165 degrees, about 1 hour.
Remove from the oven and allow to rest for about 10 minutes before carving and serving.