Rosemary. Lemon. Garlic. The holy trinity of chicken roasting.
I had this five pound behemoth of a free-range, organic chicken sold as a fryer - if this is a fryer, William Perry was a ballet dancer - and wanted to roast it. Luckily, I had lemons in the house, and fresh garlic, and my neighbor has a healthy rosemary bush from which she has offered me snips.
The chicken was dressed with all three - lemon squeezed over the skin and tucked inside, garlic sliced in half across to expose the cloves and popped in next to the lemon, rosemary leaves sprinkled over the outside and the woody stems added to the collection inside. I sliced a couple of extra heads of garlic, too, to roast along with the chicken (more about that tomorrow). 375 degrees F, one hour. Perfect.
On the way to perfection, the trinity filled the house with delirious scents. Even the white meat was juicy as the memory of a ripe peach from childhood and the skin was crisp and golden as parchment. The garlic turned mild and sweet in oven, the lemon gave off its perfumed essence and the rosemary added its almost piney tang to one of the best chicken dinners I can recall. Eating it was almost a religious experience.