Does anyone really need another recipe for roast chicken? ..... Yes, particularly when it tastes this good and is prepared with such little effort. This recipe turns out a bird that is moist and juicy, and salting it in advance, ensures a crispy golden skin. And if that's not enough...... I added ramps (tis the season, but can be substituted with scallions) and vinegary capers to create a delectable pan sauce.
1 4 1/2 pound whole chicken
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry thyme
1 bunch ramps (or scallions) trimmed and cleaned
1 lemon, quartered
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed with the side of a knife
1 tablespoon capers (I prefer the ones in brine)
2 hours before you are ready to cook the chicken, salt and pepper it, inside and out. Refrigerate it uncovered. This is an important step to ensure a crispy skin.
In a 500*F preheated oven, place a large (10-12") cast iron skillet for 30 minutes. While it's heating up, you can remove the chicken from fridge and let it warm to room temperature. If you choose, you can remove the backbone with kitchen scissors or just splay the legs until you feel the joints pop on each side. Make a small cut into the skin that connects the leg to the breast, this will make it easier to splay.
Rub the thyme onto the breast and legs and stuff 2 quarters of lemon into the bird. Carefully transfer the chicken, breast side up, to the hot skillet, flattening the thighs and legs to make contact with the hot pan. Drizzle it with olive oil and roast for 30 minutes. Add ramps or scallions to the pan, along with garlic and capers and coat them with the pan juices. Continue cooking for 10 minutes or so, until chicken is cooked through and ramps are tender. Remove chicken and let it rest 5-10 minutes. Squeeze the remaining lemon into the skillet, and stir into the pan drippings to create a sauce. Serve along side the chicken.