Marinate the chicken for at least four hours and as long as two days for the best flavor and texture. A salt rub not only seasons the meat but tenderizes it as well.
- 1/3 cup coarse salt
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 five-pound roasting chicken
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 8 fresh or dried bay leaves
- 4 lemons, quartered lengthwise, plus 3 lemons halved (optional)
In a small bowl, combine salt and lemon juice. Loosen the skin of the chicken from the flesh. Rub mixture under the skin and in the cavity of the chicken. Place chicken in a large resealable plastic bag; chill at least 4 hours and up to 48 hours, turning occasionally.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Rinse all of the salt off the chicken with cold water; pat dry with a paper towel. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine gremolata and softened butter. Rub two-thirds of the gremolata mixture under the chicken's skin; rub the rest on the outside. Stuff the cavity with the bay leaves and the quartered lemons.
Place chicken in a large roasting pan, breast-side up. Tuck the tips of the wings under the bottom of the bird. Transfer pan to oven. After 40 minutes, baste. If using lemon halves, place in pan, cut side down. Cover chicken with a 14-by-18-inch piece of aluminum foil. Reduce heat to 375 degrees.
Cook, basting occasionally, until the skin is crisp and golden, 40 to 45 minutes more. The juices should run clear when the chicken is pierced; an instant-read thermometer should register 170 degrees in the deepest part of the thigh when done. Serve warm or at room temperature.