Ever since I made Thanksgiving dinner and cooked the Turkey upside down I've been wanting to try the same technique on a chicken. I got the idea from reading the roasted Thanksgiving turkey recipe on Simply Recipes. After reading it and thinking about it, roasting poultry upside down actually makes a lot of sense! Normally, when you roast a bird breast side up, all of the juices flow down into the dark meat while it's cooking. Since the dark meat is much more moist than the white meat, you're just saturating the already moist meat with the juices from the drier white meat (did I use the word 'moist' enough times in that sentence for you?). If you flip the whole thing over, viola! The juices from the dark meat drip into the white meat while it cooks. What you end up with is a perfectly cooked, moist chicken. Hooray!
One note, most of the chickens you buy at the large chain super markets are gigantic. I got this little chicken (about 3.5 lbs) from a local grocery store that specializes in natural and organic food. This is the normal size of a chicken, not the 5-6 pounders you see at most places. If you can only find the massive chickens, just remember to increase the cooking time accordingly.
1 3-4 lb chicken
1 medium onion, quartered
1 lemon, quartered
3 sprigs rosemary
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil or butter
About 30 minutes before you start roasting the chicken, remove it from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature. Thoroughly rinse the chicken inside and out and pat dry with paper towels. Place chicken in a small roasting pan or a 9x13 glass dish to roast. Preheat oven to 350.
Salt and pepper the both the inner cavity of the chicken and the outside. Squeeze the juice from half of the lemon all of the surface of the chicken. With the other two lemon quarters, squeeze the juice inside the cavity and then stuff the lemons inside the chicken. Stuff the onions and rosemary inside the cavity. Rub the surface of the chicken with butter or olive oil. Place the chicken breast side down in the roasting pan. Bake for about 1 - 1 1/2 hours, or until a thermometer stuck in the deepest part of the thigh registers 160.
Now, if you want, you can flip the chicken over to get the skin on the breast crispy, remove the chicken from the oven, use tongs to flip the chicken and crank up the temperature in the oven to 450. Return the chicken to the oven and cook only until the skin is crispy and slightly browned. If you cook it too much longer, the white meat will dry out.
Remove the chicken from the oven and tent with foil. Let it rest for about 10 minutes.