5- to 6-lb. chicken, giblets removed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 to 8 sprigs fresh thyme, plus 4 tsp. freshly chopped thyme, divided
1 bay leaf
2 small white or yellow onions, peeled and cut in half
4 whole cloves
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. lemon juice
• Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
• Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Place the thyme stems inside the cavity. Place the bay leaf on the outside of 1 onion half and affix it to the onion using a whole clove. Pierce the other 3 onion halves with 1 clove each. Place the onions inside the chicken cavity.
• Combine the butter, 3 teaspoons chopped thyme, lemon zest, lemon juice and ½ teaspoon salt into a paste. Massage half of the paste underneath the chicken skin. Massage the outside of the skin with the remaining paste.
• Tie the legs together with butcher string. Place the chicken, breast side up, in a roasting pan on a rack. Bake 1 hour. Remove from oven. Let rest 15 minutes.
• Remove the onions from the cavity, discarding the cloves and bay leaf. Place the onions in a saucepan. Pour the pan drippings into a measuring cup and refrigerate 15 minutes.
• Carve the chicken and cover with foil.
• Remove the measuring cup from the refrigerator and skim off the fat. Add the remaining drippings to the saucepan with the onion. Cook, covered, over low heat for 10 minutes. Using a fork, mash together the onions and the drippings. Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon chopped thyme. Spoon the onions over the chicken and serve.