Foolproof roasted chicken
Start-to-finish: 1 hour, 15 minutes
One 3-pound roasting chicken, rinsed and patted dry, neck and giblets reserved (if using a larger chicken, cooking times will need to be increased)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons fresh rosemary, thyme or savory leaves in any combination
3 garlic cloves: 1 peeled and crushed, 2 lightly smashed
1 large lemon, washed
2 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
2 shallots, peeled, and cut in half lengthwise
3 sprigs thyme
1/4 cup dry white wine or Madeira, or a mixture of the two
Preheat oven to 350 F. Place a small piece of foil just large enough to cover the chicken’s breast in a roasting pan; brush it with a small amount of oil. Set aside.
With a thin, sharp knife, cut the excess fat from the neck and hind cavity of the chicken and discard. Sprinkle the chicken evenly inside and out with salt and pepper, rubbing it into skin. Stuff the herb leaves and crushed garlic clove into the cavity. Prick the lemon about 25 times with a toothpick or skewer. Stuff it into the cavity of the chicken. Using toothpicks or trussing needles, pin the neck and hind cavities closed.
Place the chicken breast down over the oiled piece of foil in the roasting pan. Nestle the neck, giblets, carrots, shallots, smashed garlic cloves and thyme around the chicken. Roast for 15 minutes.
Turn the bird breast up and carefully peel off the foil, taking care not to rip the skin; discard. Roast 20 minutes longer; then increase the oven temperature to 400 F.
Roast the chicken 20 to 25 minutes longer, until skin is brown and crisp and the juices run clear when the leg is pricked with a kitchen fork. An instant read thermometer inserted in the breast should read 150 F. Note: if using a larger chicken, cooking time must be increased.
Remove the toothpick from hind end. Lift the chicken with two wooden spoons and tilt it slightly so the juices run out of the cavity into pan. Place the chicken on a platter and keep warm.
Pour the pan juices into a small measuring cup. Let settle 3 to 4 minutes. Carefully skim the fat off the surface with a tablespoon. Pour juices back into the roasting pan set over moderate heat. Add wine and simmer, stirring to dissolve any browned bits on the bottom of the pan, about 5 minutes until the alcohol has cooked off.
Skim off any fat or scum that rises to the surface. Strain sauce into a small bowl, discard the neck and giblets and taste for seasoning. You will have about 1/2 cup of flavorful, natural juices.
Carve the chicken, dividing into four equal portions. Pour any juices that have collected on plate into the sauce.
For a lemony sauce, squeeze the lemon into the pan juices. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the pan juices over each portion of chicken.