This is the best roast chicken recipe! It's adapted from "Roasting: A Simple Art" by Barbara Kafka. The rosemary sprigs under the skin add a lot of flavor, so be sure not to skip it unless you just can't get fresh rosemary. The high heat at which you roast the chicken may cause some smoking, particularly if you skip the potatoes & onions, so be forewarned. It's crucial to the recipe, though, so don't reduce the temperature. Open doors and windows if you need to; it also helps to clean your oven first if it's got splatters or drips in it. The only time I've had it smoke is when I've skipped the vegetables, though. Use a large roasting pan--if you have a really big one, you can do two chickens at once for a dinner party. Just place them side by side in the pan, on top of the veggies, and increase cooking time if needed. It's not really as fussy as it looks--and it's so delicious! And after all, aren't you and your family worth it? ;)
- Remove all but one oven rack, and move remaining oven rack to the lowest level in the oven. Heat oven to 500°F.
- Rinse and dry chicken, removing giblets and plucking any feather sheaths left in the skin. Place in a large roasting pan (do not use glass or ceramic unless oven safe to 500° F).
- Quarter lemon lengthwise and place wedges into chicken cavity. Add garlic cloves and sprinkle a little salt and pepper on the inside.
- Loosen skin over breasts and near cavity opening to thighs. Tuck 1-2 sprigs rosemary on each side of the cavity and 1 sprig over each breast.
- Place remaining rosemary in cavity. Do not truss or tie legs.
- Place chicken into oven, legs towards the back of the oven. Roast 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cut potatoes into quarters lengthwise, then halve crosswise. Cut onion into 4-6 wedges.
- Remove chicken from oven and wiggle around to prevent sticking. Add potatoes and onions. Toss around in any fat in the pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Return to oven, legs to the back, and roast another 15 minutes.
- Remove and stir around, wiggling chicken and tossing potatoes and onions in any fat that accumulates. Return to oven, legs to back, for another 15 minutes.
- Repeat 1-2 more times, until chicken reaches 190° F internal temperature on a meat thermometer stuck into the thigh.
- Remove chicken from pan and place on a platter. Remove lemon, garlic and rosemary from cavity and allow chicken to rest 10-15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, toss potatoes and onions around in juices in pan and return to oven. Turn oven off and allow the potatoes and onions to sit in warm oven while chicken rests.
- Carve chicken, removing rosemary sprigs from under the skin, and serve with potatoes and onions.