This is my go-to recipe for when I first invite a guy I've been dating over for dinner (acceptable as a third date, but really, I'd hold out until the fourth). Roast chicken is quite simple, but still has a definite wow factor. The aromas tend to float out into the living room and there is something so comfortably evocative about the smell of roast chicken. I usually serve it with a simple green salad on the side and sometimes couscous, which is the perfect recipient of the luscious pan juices. —student epicure
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Remove the chicken from its plastic wrapping and rinse it in the sink. I know, it’s kind of slimy and scary and you don’t want to get salmonella poisoning, but don’t worry, it’ll be OK. Make sure to rinse out the cavity. If the purveyors of your supermarket have included that little bag of gifts with the neck, heart, etc. set them aside to use to make stock later. Place the chicken in a baking dish (make sure the breast is facing up!) and rub it with the olive oil and salt. Next stuff the onion and the lemon inside the chicken cavity. You probably won’t be able to get all eight pieces in, but do your best and leave the rest in the baking dish. Now pop that bird in the oven and set the timer for 1 hour 15 minutes (about 15 minutes per pound plus 15 minutes extra). If as the chicken cooks it starts to splutter oil all over the oven, just cover it lightly with a piece of tin foil.
Alright, this is the most challenging bit – knowing when the chicken is done. Not all of us have a mother or grandmother who will have bought us a quick read meat thermometer for our birthday/Christmas/Hanukkah (if you are among those lucky few, then the chicken is done when it reaches 160 F). Otherwise, carefully removed the chicken from the oven (it’s very hot!). You can jiggle the leg and if it’s loose, the chicken is done. Or, if you are like me and prefer to err on the side of knowing my date won’t die from food poisoning, cut open a thigh or breast. If the juice runs clear, it’s done. If it’s pink, stick it back in the oven for 10 minutes and then check again. Remove and let cool slightly before carving. Serve with a simple salad and couscous.