The other day, a friend who had moved to Santa Fe was in town so I asked him over to dinner. It was a weeknight and I didn't have a whole lot of time to fuss in the kitchen, and also, because it just seemed like that kind of day, I made a roast chicken.
My standby used to be Marcella Hazan's method, just stick a whole lemon inside and let it lightly perfume the bird. But lately I've been making it Simon Hopkinson’s way, from the British chef and food writer’s book “Roast Chicken and Other Stories.” It has to be among the best roast chickens I've ever tasted.
It's dead simple. And when it comes out of the oven, it looks gorgeous, the skin crisp, the flesh moist and scented all over with butter and lemon. If I have time, I sometimes rub the chicken with salt and leave it for a few hours before roasting.
Here's Hopkinson’s recipe:
4 ounces good butter at room temperature
4 pounds free range chicken
Salt and pepper
Several sprigs of thyme or tarragon, or a mixture
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed