This roast chicken is surrounded by softened -- and mellowed -- garlic cloves.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Let chicken stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Remove giblets and excess fat from cavity. Rinse chicken; pat dry. Brush outside with butter, and season with salt and pepper. Place garlic bulb in cavity. Transfer chicken to a roasting pan. Tuck wing tips under; tie legs with kitchen twine.
Roast chicken, basting occasionally with pan juices, 20 minutes. Remove from oven, and arrange garlic cloves around chicken. Continue roasting until skin is deep golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of the thigh (avoiding bone) registers 165 degrees, about 1 hour.
Transfer chicken and garlic cloves to a platter. Let tand 15 minutes, then remove garlic bulb from cavity, and discard. Carve chicken, and serve.
You can use two 4 1/2-pound birds: Stuff a half garlic head into each cavity, arrange chickens side by side in a large roasting pan, and reduce the cooking time to about fifty-five minutes.