(by Mark Bittman)
1 whole chicken, 3 to 4 pounds, trimmed of excess fat
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A few sprigs fresh tarragon, rosemary, or thyme (optional)
5 or 6 cloves garlic, peeled (optional)
Chopped fresh herbs for garnish
1. Heat the oven to 450F. Five minutes after turning on the oven, put a cast-iron or other heavy ovenproof skillet on a rack set low in the oven. Rub the chicken with the olive oil, sprinkle it with salt and pepper, and put the herb sprigs on it if you’re using them.
2. When both oven and pan are hot, 10 or 15 minutes later, carefully put the chicken, breast side up, in the hot skillet; if you’re using garlic, scatter it around the bird. Roast, undisturbed, for 40 to 50 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the meaty part of the thigh registers 155-165F.
3. Tip the pan to let the juices from the bird’s cavity flow into the pan (if they are red, cook for another 5 minutes). Transfer the bird to a platter and let it rest; if you like, pour the pan juices into a clear measuring cup, then pour or spoon off some of the fat. Quarter the bird, garnish with herbs, and serve with the pan juices.