A moist and well seasoned roasted chicken is very easy to achieve with just a little preplanning. The chicken rests on a nest of vegetables while roasting, which provides an even flow of heat around the bird, and some mighty tasty veggies when ready to eat. The pan drippings are delicious just as they are to use as gravy for the entire dish. —Annelle
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wash chicken well, inside and out, and dry with paper towels.
Mix the salt and pepper together, and season chicken inside and out. Save about one teaspoon of this mixture.
Mix softened butter, shallot, garlic, most of lemon zest, and most of freshly chopped thyme leaves (saving a little of zest and thyme for garnish). Spread this mixture under the skin of the chicken, and all over the outside.
Place the lemon pieces and the halved garlic head along with the thyme sprigs into the chicken and truss.
Place the celery pieces in the center of a small roasting pan forming a nest shape. Top with carrot pieces. Place trussed chicken on top of nest.
With a rolling pin or other heavy object, give each potato a firm hit to crack them, but not break them open. Place cracked potatoes, onion, and prunes around chicken.
Sprinkle remaining salt and pepper over potatoes and onions. Drizzle vegetables with a little olive oil.
Place pan in preheated oven, and bake for one hour. Check internal temperature of chicken, drizzle a little of the drippings over chicken and vegetables, turn potatoes, reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees, and continue cooking until internal temperature of chicken is 165 degrees.
Remove from oven, tent with foil, and let rest for 15 minutes.
Cut chicken and serve with vegetables, prunes and pan drippings. (The celery will be overcooked and should be discarded, along with the lemon, and garlic inside chicken.) (If there is too much fat in drippings, allow drippings to settle and remove and discard some of the fat.)
Garnish chicken and vegetables with remaining lemon zest and thyme leaves.