The secret to this incredibly juicy chicken with amazingly crispy skin is that there is no secret! All it takes to make a delicious roast chicken is a handful of basic ingredients, a few easy techniques, time and a little patience.
Technique tip: Dry brining the chicken at least 12 hours and up to 36 hours keeps the flesh moist and helps the skin get crispy. If you're short on time, a shorter brine will do, but the longer, the better!
Swap option: Use chicken thighs or breast instead of a full chicken or ask your butcher to spatchcock the bird for you.
In a small bowl, whisk together the salt, pepper and sugar.2.
Place chicken onto a cutting board, breast side down. Using kitchen or poultry shears, cut alongside both sides of the backbone to remove it and snip off the wingtips. (Save for stock.)3.
Flip the bird and press firmly on the breast until it flattens, and you hear the wishbone crack. Pat dry with paper towels.4.
Season chicken with salt mixture, taking care to use all of it to evenly cover all of the chicken — in between the wings, and the legs. (It may fall off, just scoop it back up and pat it on.) Transfer the chicken to a plate or (preferably) a wire rack set into a baking sheet (if you have the room) and refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 12 and up to 36 hours.5.
Preheat oven to 450 F. Set a wire rack into a baking sheet. Top rack with lemon slices and garlic and set chicken on top. Rub oil onto chicken and pour water into pan. Roast until the skin is deeply browned and the thickest part of the breast registers at least 155 F and the joint between thighs registers at least 165 F on an instant-read thermometer, 50 to 55 minutes (if you don't have a thermometer, use a paring knife to cut into the joint between the thighs to see if the juices are running clear).6.
Once the chicken is cooked, remove from the oven, and use tongs and a fish spatula to transfer it to a cutting board to rest for at least 15 minutes (do not cover). Carve and serve.