The first secret to roasting a perfect chicken is to make sure the bird is split. At the restaurant we only roast split chickens (as do most professional Chef's) and the reason for this is, it cuts down on the cooking time and you will always have even cooking. The second secret (and the one you taste) is done just after the bird emerges from the oven and I will go into that in a bit.
When it comes to prepping your bird for the oven the first thing you want to do is massage the bird with some good quality olive oil. Yes, the bird deserves a nice deep-tissue massage -- it's the least you can do since you're going to eat it! Once you have massaged the olive oil all over the bird, it is time to season it. Most restaurants use a simple seasoning of salt, pepper, garlic powder and some dried herbs. Very simple stuff. If you want to get dangerous, massage the bird with Chinese chili oil (this stuff is hot, so be careful).
Quite obviously, the next step is roasting the little fellow. As far as roasting time is concerned, it depends on the size of your chicken. The average bird goes into a 375 degree oven for about 40 minutes (the chicken in the picture is your average size store bought bird).
Once the little corn-peckerer comes out of the oven, you can perform the little secret Chef's prefer to make the best tasting bird. As the chicken is resting on the carving board, brush it with melted butter! Once it is brushed with the butter, let the bird rest about 10 minutes (it's been in a hot oven, it needs a rest).
You are now ready to carve and serve the chicken. You will notice you have a very juicy and tender bird, yet the skin is perfectly crusted. Once you start roasting your chicken this way, you will never go back to your old habits!
The new cookbook from Chef Larry Edwards is now available from Amazon.com and bookstores worldwide. One of the most anticipated cookbooks of the year, "Edwardian Cooking: Inspired by Downton Abbey's Elegant Meals."