Sometimes the simplest things are the best. This is especially true when it comes to chicken.
Chicken is pretty easy to gussy up - think chicken Kiev, chicken with forty cloves of garlic, coq au vin, and so on. But, in my humble opinion, chicken is never so good as when it is trussed, rubbed all over with some sort of fat (olive oil, butter, and schmaltz are best), showered with salt and pepper, and roasted in a hot, dry oven. I believe this to be, at the risk of hubris, the absolute best way of cooking chicken. Ever.
If you're feeling fancy, you can make a pan sauce out of the drippings. Also good - using some of those drippings in the vinaigrette for the salad or vegetables you serve alongside. And please save the carcass and use it for stock - it will be the best and cheapest stock you've ever made, and it will mean using every last bit of that wonderful chicken that gave its life for your supper. Just sayin'.
Queenie's Classic Roast Chicken
1 chicken (2-4 pounds), with its innards
1 tbsp. olive oil, softened butter, or schmaltz (rendered chicken fat)
Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. Rinse the chicken inside and out with water, pat dry all over with a paper towel, and stuff with its own organs. Truss the chicken (click here for some good methods) and rub all over with the oil, schmaltz, or butter. Place the chicken in a roasting pan or skillet just large enough to hold it, and shower it with salt and pepper.
Roast the chicken in the oven - about 45 minutes for a two-pound chicken, an hour and fifteen minutes for a four-pound chicken. The skin should be crisp and golden-brown, and the juices should run clear when you poke the thigh meat with a knife.
Let sit for ten minutes, then carve and serve.