- One 4 1/2-to-5 pound chicken
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 small yellow onion, cut into chunks (optional)
- 4 or 5 fresh flat-leaf (italian) parsley sprigs (optional)
- 4 large fresh thyme sprigs (optional)
- Look to see if the giblets and neck are still in the cavity of the chicken. If they are, remove them and reserve them for another use or discard them. Remove and discard any pockets of excess fat from around the cavity. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Brush or rub the chicken all over with olive oil, and season it inside and out with salt and pepper. If using the onion, parsley, and thyme, cram them inside the cavity. Tuck the wing tips under the back. If you like, truss the chicken by tying the legs together with kitchen string. (Please note that trussing the hen will increase the roasting time by a few minutes since the bird is held in a more compact mass.)
- Oil a V-shaped roasting rack or a wire cooling rack and place it in a roasting pan or baking dish just large enough to hold the chicken. Place the chicken on the rack and allow it to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 450°F (232°C) and position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven. [Editor’s Note: You do, of course, know that anytime you crank the oven past 400°F it’s an invitation for the remnants of last week’s apple pie and last summer’s barbecue ribs to smolder, yes? Best take an honest look at your oven before roasting this hen and, if need be, scrub any splotches or chances you’ll find yourself flinging open some windows and fanning towels at some smoke detectors.]
- Roast the chicken until the juices run clear and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh away from the bone registers 165°F (74°C), 50 to 60 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven. Slip the handle of a long wooden spoon or a pair of tongs in the chicken cavity and carefully tip the bird slightly, draining the liquid from the cavity into the pan. Transfer the chicken to a platter or carving board and tent it with aluminum foil. Let the hen rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
- If you trussed the hen, snip the string and discard it. Remove any contents from the cavity and toss them in the trash. Carve the chicken and serve it at once, trying not to surreptitiously snitch any of that crisp skin before sitting down at the table.