Classic Sunday dinner centerpiece: herbed roast chicken. Pass the mashed potatoes, please.
The Short Version
Roast at 325°F for 25 minutes per pound, basting occasionally.
The Long Version
Leave yourself plenty of time. In fact, the first time, just roast it for "just us" and not company - that way in the last half hour of cooking you're not panicking, "Come on, little white popper thermometer, pop! Be done, there's only so much cheese and crackers I can serve!"
Place a rack in a roasting pan large enough to accommodate your chicken comfortably. It shouldn't touch the sides of the roaster pan. If you don't have a rack that fits, try laying a few ribs of celery or several carrot sticks in the bottom of the pan.
Open the chicken - if you bought it at the grocery store, it'll have that little paper packet of giblets inside: REMOVE this packet. Discard it if you want to, or keep the neck for making stock. Or fry up the giblets and feed them to your cat. That's really the only thing I can think of. (I usually pitch it. One can only take thriftiness so far.) Notice how many pounds your chicken is. You'll need that weight to multiply out how long it needs to roast.
Here's where you can get creative and fancy. Stick the herbs and spices of your choice under the skin of the chicken, or sprinkle on top. Rosemary is a good choice, so is garlic. If you have a favorite seasoning blend, use that.
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Place the chicken in the roasting pan, drumsticks on top. If your chicken has that little "popper thermometer" it goes on top.
Roast the chicken for 25 minutes per pound. Baste it every once in a while with chicken broth or the drippings in the pan. If you sprinkled seasonings on top, poke a hole in the skin over on the side and baste into that hole in the skin. Otherwise, the broth just washes your pretty sprinkled seasonings overboard and into the bottom of the pan.
The bird is done when:
the little popper thermometer pops up
or a meat thermometer measures 180°F.
Or cut in just a little bit and make sure that the white meat's all white, with no pink.
When it's done, breathe a sigh of relief for a moment and then panic that someone's going to have to remove the bird from the pan and then carve it. They have these little "poultry lifter" slings that you have to put in the pan first; I never remember where mine are. I just poke the handle of a wooden spoon in the main cavity and then another in up by the wings and transfer it to a platter with those "handles." Probably wouldn't work for something bigger, like a turkey, but it seems to work fine for a chicken.
Let stand about 10 minutes, then carve. Carving is intimidating. I keep resolving to talk to my cousin Kevin about it (he went to culinary school so he's always the one who carves our Thanksgiving turkey). Mine never comes out like the picture in the book, but the chicken is juicy and delicious, so folks usually don't mind.