I've been making this recipe for a few years. I have other recipes that I like, but this one is by far the easiest, yields the crispiest skin and juiciest meat. It's the famed Thomas Keller's Mon Poulet Rôti, found on Epicurious.com.
Small 2-3 lb hen
fresh cracked pepper
few teaspoons thyme
1/2 medium onion roughly chopped (opt)
3-4 cloves smashed garlic (opt)
Yes, really, that's all you need.
Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees.
While I was at Costco the day I made this, I found these nice Coleman Organic hens in a two pack, so of course I knew exactly what I'd be doing for dinner that night.
Rinse and dry the chicken thoroughly. Stuff some paper towels between the wings and drumsticks, and in the cavity (and remove those giblets, though mine didn't have any) and get it really dry. Then set it up in your roasting pan. I like to leave some of the paper towels there for now to help with grip.
Salt and pepper the cavity well, and stuff it with the onion and garlic, if using. It takes a bit longer to cook when you use the aromatics, but I really like the flavor they impart.
Cover the cavity, flip over and salt and pepper the back and breast liberally. Truss the chicken if you like (it's quite easy - here's a video tutorial) Mine looks sort of weird because I could not for the life of me find my butcher's twine, and so instead I used doubled up cotton sewing thread. Whatever works, as long as it's a natural fiber!
After trussing with my pitiful, fragile cotton thread. Place the seasoned, trussed chicken into your roasting vessel of choice. Here I'm using my oval 3.5 quart vintage Le Creuset roaster, but I've also made this in shallow rectangle roasting pans with equal results, it's just a little messier for whatever reason.
Slide it into the oven, and then don't touch it! No basting is necessary. Roast at 450 for about an hour, until the juice runs clear and the meat reaches an internal temp of about 165. Mine was a little larger, so it was done in an extra 20 minutes.
Remove the roaster and add the thyme to the juices in the pan, and then baste the chicken all over with the drippings.
Then I like to finish with another sprinkle of thyme on top. For a quick and easy veg, chop the other half of that onion, some bell peppers, mushrooms, asparagus, zucchini - whatever you like - and toss with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast during the last 15 minutes at 450.
The meat is sooo tender and juicy, and it really couldn't have been easier! It tastes decadent without being so, though you could certainly up the luxe-factor and do as Thomas Keller suggests, and slather the meat with fresh butter and Dijon mustard. Amazing!
My excellent lunch of cold roast chicken the next day with a side of pan roasted mushrooms and asparagus.