This whole roasted chicken is an elegant meal for a Sunday supper or intimate dinner party. Lemon and garlic are used in both the chicken and the pan sauce, but don’t worry, by the time the chicken is ready, their assertive flavors will have mellowed. Start by stuffing lemons, garlic, and rosemary into the chicken’s cavity. Roast, basting the bird with a rosemary-garlic butter, until the skin is deeply browned and the meat is juicy. Use some of the reserved lemons and rosemary to make a velvety gravy to drizzle over fingerling potatoes, and serve with roasted baby carrots.
- 1Place the chicken on a work surface or cutting board and pat it dry with paper towels. Season generously inside and out with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or preferably overnight.
- 2Heat the oven to 375°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature.
- 3Fill a small saucepan halfway with water, add the lemon wedges, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the rinds are very soft, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- 4Meanwhile, place a small strainer over a medium bowl and set aside. Remove the leaves from 1 of the rosemary sprigs and discard the stem; you should have about 1 tablespoon of leaves. Heat the olive oil, butter, soy sauce, garlic, and rosemary leaves in a medium frying pan over medium heat, stirring often until the garlic is golden and the rosemary is crispy, about 4 minutes. Strain the butter mixture. Remove the garlic and set it aside, reserve the rosemary leaves for the sauce, and reserve the butter-oil mixture for basting the chicken. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel and set it aside.
- 5Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Place 6 of the lemon wedges, the remaining sprig of rosemary, and the reserved garlic in the cavity. Place the chicken in the reserved frying pan and brush it with some of the reserved butter-oil mixture. Place in the oven and roast, basting every 15 minutes, until the skin is browned, the juices run clear, and a thermometer inserted into the inner thigh (but not touching the bone) registers 165°F, about 60 to 75 minutes. Discard any remaining butter-oil mixture.
For the sauce:
- 1When the chicken is done, transfer it to a cutting board, tipping the chicken as you remove it from the pan to let the juices from the cavity drip back into the pan. Cover the chicken with a piece of aluminum foil. Finely chop the remaining 2 lemon wedges, and, using your fingers, crumble the reserved rosemary leaves; set both aside separately.
- 2Pour the drippings from the roasted chicken into a medium heatproof bowl. Let sit for a few minutes for the fat to rise to the top, then skim the fat off with a spoon and discard (alternatively, use a fat separator); set the drippings aside.
- 3Place the frying pan over medium heat and add the butter. When it foams, add the shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the vermouth and reserved chopped lemon and let cook, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon, until the vermouth is reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the raw taste has cooked off, about 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the broth or stock, whisking out any lumps. Add the reserved drippings and crumbled rosemary. Bring the sauce to a simmer and let cook until thickened and slightly reduced, about 10 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Beverage pairing: Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc, California. This wine, made in the style of white Châteauneuf-du-Pape from France’s Rhône Valley, brings honey, citrus, flowers, and wild herbs to the table—a gorgeous complement to the herby succulence of the chicken.