Tucking fresh herbs and garlic between the skin and the breast infuses the meat with flavor. We use thyme here, but you can also use fresh rosemary or parsley. If you have a rack, place the chicken on it to allow the hot air to circulate. You can also improvise a rack (as we do here) by setting the chicken on the neck and giblets.
You can use a 5- to 7-lb. roasting chicken if you prefer: In Step 2, mix together 2 Tbsp. olive oil, ¼ cup chopped fresh thyme, 2 cloves garlic, and ½ tsp. salt. Rub this mixture under the skin in Step 4. In Step 5, roast the chicken for 2 to 2¼ hours.
The drippings are a mixture of fat and flavorful liquid. Once chilled, the fat, which is less dense, will rise to the top and then solidify, making it easy to remove. If the layer of fat has not solidified, you can use a small pitcher-style fat separator to pour off the liquid that has settled at the bottom. If you don't have a fat separator, you can also use a bulb baster to suction the juices from the bottom of the container.
Butcher's twine, small roasting pan (or 12-inch ovenproof skillet)
To make ahead:
Refrigerate leftover chicken for up to 3 days. Refrigerate leftover gravy for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.