7 branches fresh rosemary, divided1 (3-pound) whole chicken2 cloves garlic, peeled1/2 lemon2 tablespoons olive oilSalt (preferably kosher), to tasteFreshly ground black pepperOPTIONAL SAUCE:3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar1 teaspoon brown sugar
Yield: 6 servings
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Chop enough rosemary to make about 1 tablespoon, reserving remaining branches. Position 4 rosemary branches in single layer in shallow roasting pan just big enough to hold the chicken.
Wash chicken, including the cavity, with cold water. Dry with paper towels. Sprinkle salt and pepper in cavity. Place garlic, chopped rosemary and lemon in cavity. Place chicken on top of rosemary branches in the baking pan. Drizzle olive oil over top of chicken. Season with salt and pepper.
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Roast 20 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and roast 60 minutes more. To check for doneness, press drumstick — it should feel tender and move easily in the socket. Or test with an instant-read thermometer: Stick thermometer stem into thickest part of thigh, just beneath but not touching the bone, reaching all the way down to the joint. It should read between 170 and 175 degrees.
Allow chicken to rest at room temperature 5 minutes before carving into serving pieces.
Meanwhile, if desired, make sauce: Combine balsamic vinegar and brown sugar in small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until brown sugar dissolves.
Cut chicken into serving pieces. Arrange on platter. If desired, drizzle with balsamic vinegar mixture. Garnish with sprigs of fresh rosemary.