You can marinate this chicken for 2 hours or up to overnight. An overnight marinade will result in more lemon flavor in the chicken, but in either case, the lemon flavor is subtle.
- One 4 pound (1.8 k) whole chicken
- 1 cup (236 ml) lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- A few sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1/2 fresh lemon, cut into wedges
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) honey, heated to make it easier to brush
1 Marinate the chicken: Rub the chicken with about two teaspoons of kosher salt, all around the surface of the chicken. Place the lemon juice and the whole chicken in a resealable plastic bag (like a large freezer bag). Seal the bag and move the lemon juice around so that it coats the chicken.
Place the bagged chicken in a bowl, so that if the bag leaks, it won't leak all over your fridge, and chill for 2 hours or overnight. Turn the chicken occasionally so that all sides stay coated with the lemon juice.
2 Pat dry the chicken, rub with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, add herbs and lemon wedges: Preheat your oven to 400°F (205°C) with an oven rack set in the bottom third of the oven. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and take it out of the marinade bag (discard the marinade).
Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Rub olive oil all over the exterior of the chicken. Sprinkle all over with salt and pepper, including the cavity. Place thyme sprigs and lemon wedges into the cavity.
3 Roast chicken and baste with honey: Place the chicken on a rack over a shallow roasting pan (we recommend a rack to help the heat circulation around the chicken). Roast for 20 minutes at 400°F (205°C), then lower the heat to 350°F (175°C). Roast for another 45 minutes.
While the chicken is roasting, heat the honey in a bowl in the microwave or in a small saucepan to make it easier to brush.
After the chicken has roasted at 350°F (175°C) for 45 minutes, use a pastry brush to generously brush the top and sides of the chicken all over with honey.
Roast for another 10 to 15 minutes at 350°F (175°C) until an instant read thermometer reads 160°F (71°C) for the breast and 170°F (77°C) for the thigh, or when a sharp knife inserted into the breast and thigh releases juices that run clear, not pink.
Honey will burn if it gets too hot, so watch the chicken at this stage. If the skin is getting too dark and the chicken still isn't done, loosely tent the chicken with a piece of aluminum foil. Brush the chicken with honey one more time before taking it out of the oven.
4 Tent with foil and let rest: Remove the chicken from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. Tent with foil to rest for 15 minutes.
5 Make gravy with drippings: Scrape up the drippings from the roasting pan with a metal spatula. Pour the pan juices and drippings into a small saucepan. If there are blackened bits from burnt honey, remove them. Spoon off all but a tablespoon of fat.
If you want to thicken the juices for gravy, create a slurry with a teaspoon of cornstarch or flour and a tablespoon of water. Add the slurry to the drippings, heat and stir until thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve the chicken with pan juices or thickened gravy.