1 21/2 - 3 pound chicken
Freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic
6 fresh sage leaves
Bunches of other herbs — such as rosemary, parsley, thyme and sorrel — leaves, stems and all. This is the perfect time to clear any sad-looking herbs from the crisper drawer or trim the straggly herb garden.
1. Clean: Pull the chicken out of its packaging and the innards out of the chicken. Save or toss innards. Plunge the chicken into a big pot of cold salted water. Let soak, a few seconds. Drain water and repeat until water is clear and chicken is clean. Pat dry with paper towels.
2. Rub: Tuck wings behind back. Sprinkle chicken, inside and out, with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; rub lightly into skin. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or wax paper. Set on a plate. Return chicken to the bottom shelf of the fridge. Let rest, 2 to 24 hours.
3. Season: Pull chicken out of fridge and let come to room temperature, up to 1 hour. Chop together sage, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Slide a finger between skin and breast, opening a pocket of space. Rub in some of the sage mix. Repeat, seasoning between the skin and meat on both sides of the breast and over the legs. Stuff herb bunches inside the chicken, filling (though not tightly packing) the cavity.
4. Roast: Meanwhile, drizzle about 1 tablespoon oil into a cast-iron pan that will later offer your chicken a snug fit. My go-to chicken pan is 10 1/2 inches across the top and 3 inches deep. Slide pan into a cold oven; heat to 425 degrees. Pan and oven will heat up together. When hot, carefully lower in chicken, breast side up. All that sizzle will ensure crisp skin. Roast 20 minutes. Turn breast down; roast 20 minutes. Flip breast up; roast 20 minutes. Chicken is done when skin is golden and blistered, its juices run clear when inner thigh is poked, and it smells delightful, about 1 hour total.
5. Rest: Lift chicken out of pan and set on a platter. Cover loosely with foil. Tip the platter so the chicken is tipped toward the breast.
6. Deglaze: Set the roasting pan on the stovetop. Add 2 tablespoons unsalted butter and 1/2 cup water or chicken broth. Set over medium-high heat. Stir with a wooden spoon, scraping up any stuck bits. Let boil and thicken, about 3 minutes. Strain into a gravy boat.
7. Serve: Carve the chicken. I usually divide into 2 wings, 2 drumsticks, 2 thighs and 2 breasts, each cut crosswise into 3 chunks. Set roasted chicken chunks on a bed of spicy greens, such as arugula or watercress. Serve with gravy. What could be better?