Julia and I never could agree on the proper way to roast a chicken. Julia liked to give hers a generous rub-down with butter before putting it in the oven. She called that step a “butter massage.” She also found no need to turn a chicken in the oven and roasted birds weighing less than 3-1/2 pounds breast side up for the entire time. Julia liked to roast her chickens on a V-shaped rack in a shallow roasting pan about two inches deep, contending, rightly, that this method let the heat circulate around the bird for even browning.
I, on the other hand, think it’s important to start the chicken on one side, flip it to the other side, and then turn it on its back for a stint, during which I baste it frequently with pan juices. The meat around the juncture of the thigh and drumstick needs the most cooking, and with the bird on its side, that joint is in direct contact with the heat and the skin becomes golden and crisp. But you must cook it in a heavy-bottomed roasting pan that allows for good heat diffusion.
Julia and I agreed that whichever approach we took, a chicken should be roasted at a high temperature—425°F. And we were totally in sync in believing that one of the greatest pleasures in life is a perfectly roasted chicken served with a deglazing sauce made from the brown bits left in the roasting pan. I will finish by saying that both techniques yield an excellent result.