A Recipe for Summer: Easy Whole Roast Chicken with Thyme and Lemon

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At least a decade ago, Barbara Kafka wrote a book about roasting pretty much everything at 500 degrees. My recipe is inspired by her concept of a really hot oven and motivated by all the time it saves. But for me, 450 is a better temperature. It's more forgiving if your timing is off.

While my oven preheats, I thoroughly rinse the chicken with very hot tap water. I cut away all the excess skin around the neck. And, for this recipe, I toss out the neck and all the organs that scare the squeamish. I pat the bird dry, inside and out. Then I make a blend of salt, pepper, and any other herbs or spices I want to use. The options I most use include garlic, thyme, dill, oregano, and sage (but not all at the same time).

Since this is a summer chicken, I chose lemon and thyme. I use fresh thyme and both lemon zest and slices of whole lemon. I rub some of my salt and pepper blend over the inside of the chicken. Then I blend some of the mixture with butter and get that mixture between the skin and the meat -- ideally, the breast meat and the thighs. I put a sliced lemon and a few sprigs of thyme inside the bird and put it in a pan breast-side up. I rub also butter or olive oil all over the skin, which creates a moisture barrier, keeping the meat moist and at the same time crisping the skin.

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Andy Broder