The Best Dry-Brined Roast Chicken
1 5- to 6-pound chicken
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/4 teaspoons freshly cracked pepper
1 1/4 teaspoons dried thyme
Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and set a baking rack on top or use a roasting pan with a roasting rack.
Zest and quarter the lemon. Combine the lemon zest, juice from 1/4 of the lemon, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 1/2 teaspoons salt, pepper and thyme together in a small bowl. Save the lemon quarters to insert into the cavity.
Pat the outside of the chicken dry with a paper towel. Slide your fingers between the skin and the breast meat to loosen the skin. Try to separate the skin from around the legs as well. Rub 3/4 of the spice mixture under the skin and into the breast and leg meat. Rub the remaining spice mixture inside the cavity of the bird. Insert the lemon quarters in the cavity.
To truss the chicken, cut a piece of kitchen twine about 15 inches long. Tuck the wings under the bird as best you can. Center the twine under the back end of the chicken so equal lengths of twine are where you tucked the wings in. Lift up each side of the twine crossing it over the top of bird’s body, wrap it around the legs. Tie the legs together.
Place the bird, baking sheet and all, into your refrigerator uncovered for 24 to 72 hours. If you don’t have the room in your refrigerator it’s ok to put the chicken on a plate and transfer it to the baking sheet when you’re ready to roast the bird.
When ready to roast, move your oven rack to the second lowest spot in the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F degrees.
The chicken will look a little desiccated after the 24-72 hour rest. That’s a good thing! It means your chicken will have crispy skin! Transfer the baking sheet from the fridge to the counter. Rub the outside of the chicken with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, a 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt, and a few cracks of fresh ground pepper.
Place the baking sheet into the oven and roast for 1 hour at 375 degrees F degrees. Then turn the oven up to 425 degrees F degrees for the remaining 20 minutes or until the temperature in the thickest part of the breast reaches 160 degrees F degrees. Check the chicken at the 45-minute mark and baste it. You may have to tip the pan a little to the corner to get to the juices. If you don’t have a baster don’t worry, just use a long-handled spoon to scoop up and pour the drippings over the chicken. Continue to baste every 15 to 20 minutes until it reaches a deep, rich, golden color, the skin is crispy, and the chicken has finished cooking through.
Remove the chicken from the oven when the temperature in the thickest part of the breast reads about 160 degrees F. Let it rest for 5 minutes. The temperature will continue to rise to reach 165 degrees F. If you don’t have a thermometer that’s ok. The chicken is cooked through when you slice into it and the juices run clear.