To roast a chicken, you need a 4- to 5-pound chicken, salt, black pepper, butter and an oven-safe dish to cook it in. Remove the giblets from the cavity, then pat the chicken dry. Massage softened butter all over the chicken.
Once the chicken has been thoroughly buttered, season it with salt and pepper. Place the chicken breast-side up in the dish, and roast it at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 50 to 60 minutes. The chicken is done when a thermometer inserted into the thickest part reads 165 degrees, the legs are loose and wiggly, and the juices run clear. Drizzle the drippings over the top, and let it cool under tented foil for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing and serving.
To prevent the breast from drying out in the oven, Serious Eats recommends one additional step: butterflying. The process is relatively simple, involving cutting the spine of the chicken out to flatten the carcass. This places the chicken breast at the center of the oven while the legs rest on the outer edge so that the parts are exposed to different levels of heat and are neither under- nor overcooked. Other methods of counteracting overcooked chicken breasts are brining and salting.