The combination of fresh lemon zest and rosemary make the perfect rub in this easy, flavourful roast chicken dish. I love making this chicken because it is prepared the night before cooking and then roasted the next day at high heat. The best part - dinner is ready in one hour! My children love this dish so much that. if I make it when the entire family is home, I usually roast 2 chickens so that we have plenty of delicious leftovers.
Chop the rosemary, then if using, add it to a mini processor. Add the lemon zest, kosher salt, fresh and pepper. Pulse until blended. Alternatively, mix all the ingredients in a small bowl or mortar and pestle. Mash against the side of the bowl to blend.
Rub the lemon-rosemary salt all over the chicken, inside and out and put two quarters of the lemon inside of the chicken cavity.
Place the chicken on the wire rack and set it on the baking sheet. Place in the refrigerator and leave overnight or up to 24 hours.
Roast the chicken:
30 minutes before you roast the chicken, take it out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature.
Brush the chicken all over with melted butter. (This certainly adds to the flavour and colour but you can omit this step if you want.)
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Adjust the rack to the middle position.
Place the chicken in the roasting pan set on a rack. Roast the chicken 40 minutes breast side up.
Note: Roasting chicken like this at high temperature may splatter a bit in your oven. I usually make this chicken when the oven is due for a cleaning. Then, the day after roasting the chicken, I clean my oven.
Use tongs to flip the chicken and roast an additional 20 minutes. (Be careful not to pierce the skin of the chicken with the tongs.) Check the internal temperature. The chicken is ready when the internal temperature of the thickest part of the thigh is between 165°F-170°F.
When the chicken is done, set out on a platter and let rest for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with a drizzle of the lemon juice from the remaining quarters of the lemon.