1 stick butter (¼ lb), softened
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small orange, halved
½ head garlic (I used ¾ head sliced in half)
1 medium onion, quartered (I used ½ a large red I had on hand)
6 strips thick, good bacon
Preheat oven to 425ºF.
Rinse the chicken with cool water, inside and out, and pat dry with paper towels. Season the inside with salt and pepper. Divide the herbs, keeping ½ of them whole. Finely chop the other half and mash in a small bowl with the softened butter until combined. Loosen the skin with your fingers and rub or pat the herbed butter under the skin, as well as all over the outside of the chicken. (To get to the thighs, go in from the back skin.) Season the bird all over with salt and pepper. Stuff the cavity with the orange, garlic, onion, and the remaining herbs. Depending on the size of your bird, you may not be able to fit it all in; don't overstuff it or it will take too long to cook. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine to help hold its shape. Place the chicken, breast-side up, in a roasting pan. Lay the strips of bacon across the breast of the chicken and roast for 30 minutes.
Remove the bacon and baste the chicken with the drippings and cook for another 30 minutes to brown the skin. (You can finish frying up the bacon for an appetizer to appease the clamoring kids.) The chicken is done when an instant-read thermometer reads 165ºF when inserted into the thickest part of the thigh (the legs of the chicken should wiggle easily from the sockets too.) Remove the chicken to a platter and let stand for 10 minutes, so the juices settle back into the meat before carving. And yes, the rest time makes a difference - it will give you more moist juicy chicken. (If you find that the chicken is not quite done in the middle, I recommend removing the aromatics and finishing that way. It will get done quicker and you won't have to worry about over-browning the skin. Another reason not to overstuff the bird.)
Optional cool way to serve: carve the chicken tableside and squeeze the oranges from the cavity over the meat.
After this success, I'll be on the lookout for good deals on good local free range chicken. This will go into regular rotation on the dinner circuit.